THE World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) has worked with Kuehne & Nagel, a multinational freighting company, to develop a kirpan accommodation policy for Sikhs workers at its Canadian facilities.
In November 2013, Parminder Kaur, an amritdhari Sikh, was sent by her employment agency to the Kuehne & Nagel facility in Mississauga. At the entrance to the facility, Kaur was told that the location was “metal free” and she would not be permitted to wear her kirpan. Upon speaking with other workers, she learned that metal bracelets and other metal jewelry were being permitted onto the premises.
Kaur tried to explain the significance of the kirpan but was told she would not be permitted to work without its removal. After leaving the facility, she contacted the WSO for assistance.
The WSO contacted Kaur’s employment agency, and then Kuehene & Nagel directly, to discuss the issue. Kuehene & Nagel agreed that the kirpan should be accommodated and agreed to work with WSO to develop a Canada-wide policy for its facilities. After discussions, it has been agreed that amritdhari Sikh workers will be permitted to wear the kirpan if they are wearing all the other Sikh articles of faith, if the kirpan is worn underneath the clothing and does not exceed 7.5 inches in length.
WSO legal counsel Balpreet Singh said, “Parminder Kaur should be commended for standing up for her right to wear the kirpan. We are running into an increasing number of situations where individuals being sent by employment agencies to third party locations are being told they cannot work with their articles of faith. Because these workers are not employees of the company, it is sometimes felt that providing them religious accommodation isn’t necessary or worth the effort. We are however, thankful to Kuehene & Nagel for their cooperation in this process. Once they became aware of the problem, they worked diligently to address it.”
Parminder Kaur said, “I’d like to thank the WSO for their assistance. They have been very supportive and helped me understand my rights and worked determinedly to correct this situation so other Sikh workers will not face the same obstacles.”