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Last Updated:  Thursday, 6 March, 2003, 14:15 GMT
Sikh sues New York police
By Emma Simpson
BBC correspondent in New York

Sikh official at the Golden temple
Sikh men wear turbans to cover hair they cannot cut
A Sikh man is suing the New York Police Department after he was dismissed from the force for refusing to remove his turban or shave off his beard.

Amric Singh Ratour from Queens is accusing his bosses of discrimination on religious grounds.

He had applied for a job as a traffic policeman two years ago.

He passed all the required tests and was eventually sworn in as a new officer.

But two months into the job, he said he was fired because he wouldn't shave or wear a police hat instead of his turban.

Mr Ratour was born and raised in New York and said that he felt betrayed because he had been denied an important expression of his religious faith.

Sikh policemen in UK
Sikh policemen have won the right in other countries

A spokesman for the New York Police Department said there were other Sikh officers in the force who wore coverings under their uniformed hats.

For instance, Mr Ratour's father and brother were police officers and both decided to conform with the NYPD's rules.

But Amric Singh Ratour said he was determined to seek compensation and a change in policy.

If he wins, a new precedent could be set. Mr Ratour's lawyer said unlike some other countries there were no turban Sikhs working for any American police force. Mr Ratour's case is gathering support.

He is now being backed by Sikh policemen in Canada and Britain - places were Sikhs are allowed to wear traditional beards and turbans while on duty.

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