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Texas Sikh women wins lawsuit related to right to wear Kirpan

November 13, 2014 | By

Houston, Texas: A former Internal Revenue Service worker in Houston has settled a federal lawsuit that alleged she was fired for insisting she be allowed to wear a three-inch Kirpan.

Kanwaljit Kaur

Kanwaljit Kaur Tagore

Kawaljeet Kaur Tagore was terminated from her job in 2006, after federal officials couldn’t reach a compromise with her over safety concerns they had about the Kirpan.

The settlement, announced last week in the 2009 lawsuit, removes Kawaljeet Kaur Tagore’s firing from her record. It also allows Kawaljeet Kaur to enter federal buildings with the Kirpan for three years. She can’t seek re-employment with the IRS, but she can look for work with other federal agencies.

“Sikh Americans shouldn’t have to choose between their faith and their jobs,” said Daniel Blomberg, an attorney with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which helped Tagore.

“The government doesn’t get to say that sharp knives are OK if they are brought in to cut birthday cakes, but dull Kirpans aren’t OK because they are religious items,” he said. “The settlement confirms that religious freedom is not a second-class right.”

In the settlement, the Federal Protective Services, which oversees security in federal buildings, agreed to educate its employees about the Kirpan’s significance.

Earlier this year, 12 major American Sikh advocacy groups sent letters to US President Barack Obama and then-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder calling for Kawaljeet Kaur Tagore’s reinstatement to her IRS job. She currently works as a self-employed tax consultant.

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