Sikh Files Human Rights Complaint Against Employer

April 25, 2006

Source: Sun Media

On April 25, 2006 Sun Media reported, "A major oilsands company broke human-rights laws when a worker was fired for having a beard, a Sikh man is alleging. In a complaint before the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission, the man, Devinder Wadhwa, says Syncrude Canada discriminated against him by requiring him to shave. He argues the company had a duty to modify its no-beard policy when he was hired as an electrician at the UE-1 expansion project north of Fort McMurray back in July 2003... For Syncrude, the beard policy is necessary 'from a safety point of view,' said company spokesman Alain Moore. Construction workers, he pointed out, need to be able to put on a face mask called a Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) in case of a gas leak... Wadhwa, though, says there are alternatives to Sycrude's standard safety mask. When supervisors took him aside on his first day at Syncrude to explain the company's clean-shaven policy, he offered in writing to buy himself what's called a Puma respirator, another type of SCBA mask made by U.S.-based Survivair that works even with beards and other complications like eyeglasses."