SIKH POLICEMAN WINS £10,000 AWARD AFTER TURBAN ROW
A Sikh policeman ordered to remove his turban to do riot training was awarded £10,000 compensation today by an employment tribunal.
PC Gurmeal Singh, who joined Greater Manchester police in 2004, had objected to removing his turban for the course on religious grounds.
After a three-week hearing in Manchester, he was awarded £3,500 for indirect racial and religious discrimination and £6,500 for harassment after suffering psychological damage, injury to feelings and personal injury.
In a meeting with a sergeant to discuss the riot training, he was told: “Can you not take that thing off … this is what you signed up for.”
Singh, 31, was also asked whether he could modify his turban. He told the tribunal he feared he would be made to look like a comic character from Only Fools and Horses, where in one episode Del Boy Trotter tries to sell 200 “crash turbans” for fashion-conscious motorbike-riding Sikhs in Peckham – the motorcycle helmets had cloth wrapped around them.
Singh said he suffered panic attacks, stress and palpitations and was off sick over the issue during the long-running dispute.
The tribunal rejected 13 of his 15 allegations. But the panel found he suffered a single case of indirect racial and religious discrimination, after he was included on a group email on 8 February last year, telling officers riot training was mandatory and he would therefore have to remove his turban.
Singh had already told superiors he was unhappy about the situation.
Two months later he had an “unpleasant” meeting with his sergeant and went off sick the next day. The tribunal heard the two officers were on good terms and this was a “one-off disagreement”, but the panel ruled the meeting amounted to harassment.
Singh is still employed by Greater Manchester police on “recuperative duties”.
He was also awarded payment for loss of earnings of £1,914.15.
After the hearing Singh said: “I’m looking to return to work and see how GMP accommodate me. The sort of case I brought forward was long-term issues which I’m hoping will be resolved and I can only hope GMP can accommodate me.”