Sikh bus driver in Finland plans to take employer to court over landmark turban case

by , under Enrique

Busman Gill Sukhdarshan Singh told Migrant Tales that he plans to take his employer to court if no decision is reached with the Veolia bus company concerning a turban ban at work after the the Southern Finland Regional State Administrative Agency (Avi) makes a new ruling on the matter in about a week and a half. 

Sukhdarshan Singh was hopeful in the spring  that he’d be able to wear a turban to work from the end of September. Avi ruled that not allowing the busman to wear a turban at work was discriminatory.

The case has received wide coverage in the national media.

Avi ruled in June that a turban by the employer was discriminatory and gave the bus company until the end of September to redress the matter.

Kuvankaappaus 2013-12-8 kello 20.25.52

Read full story here.

“The employer didn’t say whether he was for or against me using a turban at work but at the end of September he told me that the ban was still in force,” the Sikh busman said. “I was very disappointed and felt very bad about the decision.”

Sukhdashan Singh said that he had been in touch with Sikh busmen in Germany, England, the United States and Sweden who had expressed their solidarity with his cause.

The problems that the busman faces at work is a good example of how far Finland lags behind other European countries concerning cultural diversity. Sikh bus drivers in England won such rights over forty years ago in 1969.

  1. ohdake

    This really comes down to if the bus company has a legitimate – safety for example – reason to forbid turban and other headdress. If the bus company can show that there is such a reason – despite of how distant – then Singh has really no case since the bus company can’t exactly go making exceptions in safety matters. Religious reasons or not. Just because ‘they do it in UK’ does not really cut it.

    On the other hand if there is no such reason, and especially if the ruling is directly solely to Singh (or to sikhs or even solely against turbans) then there is no case for the bus company. Since i have no idea under what kind of agreements and terms the bus company employs people it is impossible for me to say.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      If there were a reason like “safety,” certainly Sikh bus drivers wouldn’t be able to wear turbans in countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, the US, India and other parts of the world. The attitude of the bus company is simple: This is my country and I don’t have to therefore change. Sad but true.