New York: Sikh and Muslim employees of New York City transit system will be allowed to wear religious head coverings without an agency logo in public even when on duty operating buses and subways.
The decision comes as part of a legal settlement made Wednesday in Brooklyn federal court to end the “brand or segregate” policy put into place by the New York City Transit Authority following 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
According to the settlement, Transit Authority employees would no longer be forced to brand their religious headwear with logos for the operator organisation but can wear them as long as they are of the same colour as their transit uniforms.
The lawsuit was filed by the US Department of Justice against the Transit Authority in 2004, because it was being used to target Sikh and Muslim workers.
When employees refused to attach transit authority logos to their religious headwear, they were systematically disciplined and forced to work out of the view of passengers in less-desirable jobs.
Though Transit Authority officials said that the crackdown was “across-the-board, neutral enforcement” of its uniform policy, Sikh and Muslim employees said that it was designed to appease anti-Muslim sentiments.
The Transit Authority has also agreed to pay monetary settlements amounting to $184,500 to eight Sikh and Muslim current and former employees though it still maintains the policy was “never animated by religious or ethnic bias”.
Amardeep Singh, programme director of the Sikh Coalition said: “We’re glad that this sad chapter in our city’s reaction to 9/11 has come to an end.”