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Medical firm sued for discrimination against Sikh employee

Last week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced the filing of a nationwide lawsuit against multiple large medical firms, including Global Medical Response (GMR), American Medical Response (AMR), and AMR subsidiaries, according to The Sikh Coalition. The lawsuit was in part prompted by the wrongful termination of Sikh paramedic Ravinder Singh.

In November 2020, AMR fired Singh after he requested and then did not receive personal protective equipment (PPE) that accommodated his turban and beard, even though he had submitted documentation about the Sikh articles of faith and demonstrated his need for accommodation. Furthermore, Singh had already successfully used a Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) during paramedic training with AMR staff in September 2020. Despite all this, AMR insisted that Singh use an N95 mask before ultimately dismissing him from his position.

“Like every other employer in the United States, AMR has a simple and clear obligation to keep its employees safe while they perform their jobs,” said Giselle Klapper, Sikh Coalition Senior Staff Attorney. “We know that paramedics like Mr. Singh are capable of performing their work with a PAPR, and that AMR is capable of providing such equipment. Why any company would turn away a qualified paramedic and violate their civil rights in the middle of a global pandemic is beyond comprehension.”

For Singh, the greatest difficulty of the situation has been his inability to do what he has trained for: help others. “In the early days of the pandemic, when I was training with AMR, I was eager to use my medical and emergency preparedness knowledge to help others,” he said. “It was extremely difficult to be turned away from that urgent work because of my faith — but now, I am able to be of service with appropriate and effective PPE in my new position. Ultimately, I’m supporting this legal action because no qualified professional should ever be forced to sit at home when they could be out saving lives.”

The case is expected to proceed to the United States District Court for the District of Colorado in the next few weeks.

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