Flordia Restaurant Could Face $10,000 Fine for Refusing Entry to Turbaned Sikh

March 25, 2004

Source: Sun-Sentinel


On March 25, 2004 the Sun-Sentinel reported, "The humiliation began for spring breaker Mandeep Chahil with the words 'take it off.' He tried to explain his turban is not a hat; it's required by his Sikh religion. But staff at Max's Ocean Front at Beach Place in Fort Lauderdale insisted on a no-hat rule and kicked him out Friday night. After he and his friends continued to argue with security guards outside, police arrested Chahil and charged him with trespassing. According to civil-rights attorneys, it may be the restaurant that broke the law. Under Florida's new civil-rights law, a business can be fined $10,000 for refusing to serve a person for reasons relating to religion. Federal civil-rights laws also apply. But many employers do not understand these laws, and fewer know about the Sikh religion and its requirements. The religion forbids men to cut their hair or beards, and requires them to cover their hair to keep it clean and honor God. 'They wouldn't even listen to me. I was saying it was a religious thing; it's not a hat. I can't take it off. It's like taking my head off, it's part of my body,' Chahil said."