Trilochan Oberoi earns barely more than minimum wage as a Wal-Mart cashier, but will soon begin making $61,000 a year as a manager in the corrections department of Folsom State Prison in addition to the $295,000 in damages he was awarded after a six-year battle to become a prison guard. The state of California settled a lawsuit filed by Oberoi after he was barred from becoming a prison guard because he refused to shave the beard required by his Sikh religion, the Associated Press reported on October 27, 2011.
While civil rights organizations said the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s policy amounts to religious discrimination, under the settlement, the state will not change its rules requiring most men to be free of facial hair so they can be fitted for gas masks. According to the AP, the department’s policy since 2004 “has been that gas masks must fit tightly to protect correctional officers from tear gas and pepper spray sometimes used to quell inmate uprisings.”
Oberoi spent 26 years in the Indian Navy and nine years as a captain in India’s merchant marines before coming to the United States in 2001. While he told the AP that he is happy with his new job, the corrections department recently sent out 26,000 layoff warnings as it downsizes under a new law that shifts responsibility for lower-level criminals to counties.
Have you been the victim of similar employment discrimination because of your religion? If you feel that you have been the victim of discrimination because of religion, age or disability, our Los Angeles employment attorney may be able to secure relief under state or federal law. If you have questions about how to prove discrimination, contact our office today to set up a private consultation with our firm.
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