New York City Council Majority Demands End to MTA's "Turban-Branding" Policy

June 23, 2009

Author: Staff Writer

Source: The Sikh Coalition

On Tuesday, a majority of the New York City Council called on the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) to end a policy requiring Sikh workers to brand their turbans with the MTA logo. 27 of the Council's 51 members sent a letter to Howard Roberts, president of MTA New York City Transit, charging that the policy amounts to religious discrimination.

This marks the first time in the four year dispute between Sikh transit workers and the MTA that a majority of the New York City Council has spoken out against the MTA's turban-branding policy. As it stands, the MTA requires both Sikh and Muslim workers to brand their respective religious headdress with its logo. The policy is presently the subject of litigation in the federal court brought by both Sikh and Muslim workers.

"We are not talking about baseball caps that people wear when it's too sunny outside or when their hair might be messed up," stated City Council Transportation Chair John Liu. "This is headdress that is required of followers of the Sikh faith. It is totally and utterly unacceptable for the MTA to require that their corporate logo be sewn onto this religious wear. It serves no purpose toward enhancing service nor protecting the public, and effectively humiliates followers of the faith."

Council Member Tony Avella added, "It's time for the City Council to take action on this matter, and it's long overdue that the MTA end religious discrimination. Enough is enough."