After a Sikh man was denied work at the luxury Claridge's Hotel in London, he was awarded 7,000 pounds of compensation for being the victim of the "no-beards" policy of a few hotels. This comes as a UK employment tribunal came to know that a Sikh man from New Zealand was refused work by recruitment agency Elements Personnel Services Ltd a few years ago. He was refused work, as the agency reiterated that there was a generally prevailing "no ponytails or facial hair" rule in the market and many high-end hotel clients of the agency followed it.
Even though the agency - Elements Personnel Services, made clear and confident assertions, Judge Holly Stout found out that the client hotels of the agency were not consulted to determine if an exception was made on religious grounds for Sikhs. The judge said, "The agency has not produced any evidence of their clients being asked about whether they would accept a Sikh working for them. A Sikh who could not shave for religious reasons."
"The possibility of clients making an exception to their policy for Sikhs for religious reasons had not, on the evidence before us, been explored," she concluded as she awarded the 7,102.17-pound compensation, 5,000-pound of which was towards "injury to feelings".
Speaking after the ruling, Sethi's lawyer Mukhtiar Singh said, "He was deeply hurt by the decision not to recruit him and, like many Sikhs, felt duty-bound to fight for justice. The case is important because it shows that a no-beard policy will be subject to close scrutiny by the tribunals and courts."
According to media reports, Raman Sethi decided that he would donate all the compensation he has received to the UK-headquartered Sikh charity Khalsa Aid. Raman Sethi’s interaction with the agency took place in November 2017 as he signed up for a recruitment event. However, the agency later told him that they could not keep him on their books. The email that was sent to Raman Sethi by the agency Elements read that there "wouldn't be enough shifts to give you" as hotel managers "won't allow having facial hair due to health and safety/hygiene reasons."
After Raman Sethi was turned down by Elements, he secured shifts working at another five-star hotel, The Savoy in London, through another agency. During the court proceedings, a member from the agency management team argued that the requirements of their five-star customers were outside their control and that clients would send staff home instructing them to shave or they will not be given further shifts. The tribunal accepted that the agency had felt pressure to apply a blanket "no beards" policy but ruled that it was discriminatory for not taking religious beliefs into account.
(With Agency Inputs)