A Sikh policeman has sued his employers for racial discrimination, alleging that he was “humiliated” for not removing his turban causing him to suffer panic attacks and high blood pressure.
Gurmeal Singh, 31, who works for the Greater Manchester Police, told an employment tribunal that when he refused to remove his turban during training, he was advised to get himself a “modified” turban. This made him feel like a comical character in the TV sitcom Only Fools and Horses who takes delivery of “crash turbans,” helmets wrapped in protective cloth, describing them as the “essential accessory for fashion-conscious, motorbike-riding Sikhs.”
“My turban is not an article of clothing like a shirt or tie, it is part of me, a part of my religion; and I feel as though my religion and I had become an issue for GMP [Greater Manchester Police],” he said.
Mr. Singh, who is seeking £200,000 in damages, claimed he was not allowed to ride a cycle unless he removed his turban and was “coerced” into walking through a petrol fire, putting his life at risk.
He also complained that he was “patronised” by senior officers and shouted at for refusing to wear a helmet. He said a senior officer mistook him for a Muslim. The tribunal was told that his health was affected because of the way he was treated; he had to be hospitalised twice.