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Monday, June 2, 2014

Sikh Groups Call on President Obama to Reinstate IRS Agent Fired for Wearing Knife to Work

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Sikh Groups Call on Obama to Reinstate IRS Agent Fired for Wearing Article of Faith (more here):

Tagore1According to information shared by United Sikhs, a US based NGO, [o]n January 28, 2014 letters were sent to President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder by twelve major American Sikh advocacy organizations, including United Sikhs, calling on the Obama Administration to immediately reinstate Kawaljeet Tagore, a Sikh IRS Agent based out of Houston, TX fired in July, 2006 for wearing a kirpan, a Sikh religious article of faith.

Following her termination, Tagore sued the IRS and the Federal Protective Service (FPS),the federal agency responsible for the security of federal buildings, under Title VII and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act for failing to accommodate her Sikh religious practice of wearing the kirpan, a dagger-like article that symbolizes the Sikhs’ commitment to justice. Even though FPS and IRS allow saws, box cutters, letter openers, and cake knives into federal buildings for work-related purposes, the IRS and FPS defended Tagore’s lawsuit by claiming that a federal criminal law, 18 U.S.C. section 930, prohibits them from according Tagore any accommodation for her kirpan.

In 2012, a Houston federal judge sided with the government and dismissed Tagore’s lawsuit. However, on November 13, 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit—relying on a December, 2012 FPS Policy Directive that requires accommodation of kirpans — reversed the federal judge’s ruling in favor of FPS [Tagore v. United States, No. 12-20214 (Nov. 23, 2013)]. The Fifth Circuit held that the new FPS Policy Directive “contradicts the arguments previously advanced by the government for denying Tagore an exception or exemption for the wearing of her kirpan.

Yet, to date, the government has refused to reinstate Tagore to her position as an IRS agent, compensate her, or accommodate her kirpan.

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2014/06/sikh-groups-call-on-obama.html

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