Sikh and Muslim MTA workers settled a lawsuit today that will allow them to wear religious headscarves while working underground.
The MTA had previously required workers’ headscarves to have the MTA logo.
The Sikh Coalition, which sued the MTA, argued that the policy “segregated them out of public
view.” The group said that after 9/11, the MTA used security concerns to
force Muslim and Sikh employees to either have the MTA logo on their
headdress or work out of sight.
In 2009, Council members wrote a letter to New York City Transit, asking them to change the policy.
Sat Hari Singh, a plaintiff, said he was “relieved” to hear the lawsuit had come to an end.
“The MTA honored me for driving my train in reverse away from the towers on 9/11 and leading passengers to safety,” he continued. “They called me a ‘hero of 9/11.’ I didn’t have a corporate logo on my turban on 9/11. This policy made no sense. It was driven by fear.”
Added plaintiff Inderjit Singh, a Sikh station agent, “My turban never interfered with my work in any way. I’m happy that I can do my job now without having to worry about this policy hanging over me.”
MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said the settlement contains no finding of fault or liability, just modifies the uniform policy so employees can wear “turbans, headscarves and certain other forms of headwear that do not contain the standard NYCT-issued logo, but are in the standard NYCT blue color.”
He added, “The existing policy, which was in place long before these lawsuits were filed, was never animated by religious or ethnic bias.”