IRS Orders Employee to Stop Wearing Kirpan in the Workplace

March 6, 2006

Source: SikhNet News/The Sikh Coalition

On March 6, 2006 The Sikh Coalition reported, "The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has ordered Kawaljeet Kaur, an accountant in the IRS’ Houston office, to stop wearing her kirpan to work. The Sikh Coalition is prepared to file a lawsuit on behalf of Kawaljeet Kaur’s right to wear her kirpan to work if necessary... Kawaljeet began working for the IRS as a staff accountant during the summer of 2004. Last April she took Amrit [or Sikh baptism] and began wearing her kirpan along with all the articles of the Sikh faith. Kawaljeet immediately informed her employer that she would begin wearing her kirpan. The blade of her kirpan is three inches long. She wears it in a gatra, underneath her clothes. According to Kawaljeet, the employees at her workplace all have access to scissors and heavy staplers. In addition, employees have used knives in office kitchens and box cutters in mailrooms. Since all of these items are more dangerous than her kirpan and are more freely accessible to employees and visitors, Kawaljeet believes she should allowed to be wear her kirpan to work... On January 20, 2006, the IRS sent Kawaljeet a letter ordering her to appear at work without her three inch kirpan by January 30, 2006 or be considered 'Absent Without Leave.' The letter stated that wearing her kirpan to work would violate 18 U.S.C. § 930 which prohibits dangerous weapons in federal facilities, including knives with blades two and one-half inches in length or over."