Two Sikh truck drivers in New Zealand take boss to Human Rights Commission over racial abuse

“It was a shock to us that anyone would say, in New Zealand, that Sikhs are terrorists”, says Singh.

March 03, 2023 04:49 pm | Updated 04:49 pm IST - Melbourne

Two Sikh tow truck drivers in New Zealand have filed a complaint against their former boss with the Human Rights Commission for her inaction against racial abuse by a manager who called all Sikhs "terrorists", a media report said.

Raminder Singh and Sumit Nandpuri, ex-employees of Southern Districts Towing, resigned after their complaints regarding alleged racial abuse by a manager last year were not treated appropriately by the company’s owner, Pam Watson, news website reported.

A new manager allegedly told Singh that “all Sikhs are terrorists”, and on a different occasion, he interrupted Mr. Nandpuri’s discussion with a colleague and used derogatory language against the Sikh community. Following the racial abuse, both men complained to Watson and finally quit after they felt their grievances were not taken seriously..

The two received no apology from the employer after they quit and were instead questioned about whether they had celebrated the death of British Queen Elizabeth II.

The duo filed a complaint at the Human Rights Commission (HRC), which will hold a mediation hearing this month. The complaint can be referred to the Human Rights Review Tribunal if the HRC fails to conclude, the report said on March 2, 2023.

Mr. Singh, who worked for the company for two and a half years, said both men were New Zealand citizens with clean records but had been made to feel like criminals.

“This outcome is like a slap in the face,” he was quoted as saying in the report.

The company has not apologised to me, and nor has (the manager). It has hurt me mentally and emotionally,” he added.

Mr. Nandpuri, who worked for the company for over five years, said it was the fifth incident of racism he had experienced there.

Supreme Sikh Society’s Daljit Singh, representing the pair at the Commission, said the case was a “very disturbing” one.

“It was a shock to us that anyone would say, in New Zealand, that Sikhs are terrorists,” Mr. Singh was quoted as saying in the report. “It is completely unbelievable, and they are very offended,” he added.

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