WSO Helps Resolve Kirpan Dispute at Toronto Coffee Plant

Toronto (September 12, 2013):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) has helped Baldev Singh secure the right to freely wear his kirpan at the Club Coffee plant in Toronto. 

On September 3rd, 2013 Baldev Singh was summoned to the company’s office and told that he would have to remove his kirpan before entering the plant.  Singh was wearing his tightly sheathed kirpan underneath his clothing and restrained in a gatra (belt).  He was told that the wearing of the kirpan would be a violation of food safety regulations and that, as a knife, it could not be permitted on the premises.  Singh tried to explain the significance of the kirpan but was told he could either remove the kirpan and return to his job or leave.  Singh chose to leave and contacted the WSO for assistance.

WSO contacted Baldev Singh’s employment agency Staff Plus and provided them information on the significance of the kirpan and explained the legal duty to accommodate.  Senior management at Staff Plus then worked with Club Coffee to ensure that the kirpan would be accommodated.

Baldev Singh was offered an apology for the misunderstanding and asked to return to work with his kirpan.  Further,  he was compensated for the shifts he was forced to miss as a result of the situation.

WSO legal counsel Balpreet Singh said, “we are glad that our intervention resulted in a timely resolution to this situation.  While the kirpan has been recognized as an article of faith by the Supreme Court of Canada, sometimes employers are not familiar with its significance and we are happy to help assist in providing that education and training.  What’s most important however is that Baldev Singh knew his rights and wasn’t willing to compromise on them.”

Baldev Singh said, “I’d like to the thank the WSO for their help.  They acted quickly and answered the concerns that were expressed about the kirpan so I could once again return to work without compromising my religious beliefs”

WSO would like to thank Staff Plus Vice President Mark Gosellin for his assistance and cooperation throughout.

If you or someone you know has faced discrimination because of their faith, please contact WSO for free advice and assistance.

The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals, irrespective of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, and social and economic status.

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