Sikh Man Files Human-Rights Complaint Against Alta. Firm Over Beard

July 25, 2008

Author: Keith Gerein

Source: News Service

A Sikh man who served as a contract employee for TransAlta Corp. says he has filed a human-rights complaint against the company in a dispute over his beard.

"I'm going to take this as far as I have to until I get an apology," said Av Singh, now home in England after cutting short his eight-week assignment at TransAlta's Sundance power plant west of Edmonton.

TransAlta is a Calgary-based power generator and vendor.

"I think the way I was treated was completely unfair," said Singh, 24, who was sent by his company in early May to Sundance to serve as a turbine technical adviser.

When he first arrived, he was given a "fit" test to ensure a respirator mask formed an adequate seal around his bearded face. The masks are used for protection when there is a release of a noxious substance.

Singh passed the test. But five weeks later, a different safety supervisor arrived at the site and suggested Singh's beard was too long for the mask to properly fit.