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United Sikhs’ activism prevented bill requiring Sikh operators to provide hair sample

January 29, 2015 | By

USA: An update by the United Sikhs says the Drug Free Commercial Driver Act of 2013 (H.R. 3403) was a bill proposed on October 30, 2013 by Congressman Eric “Rick” Crawford (R-AR) who introduced the Drug Free Commercial Driver Act of 2013. The bill proposed to allow motor carriers to force a Sikh operator to provide a hair sample.

The US based NGO says it took action and reached out to the main sponsor of the bill and created dialogue about it’s concerns.

United Sikhs

United Sikhs

“We informed Congressman Crawford’s staffers about the Sikh religion, its articles of faith, and the importance of uncut hair. After receiving limited security that our concerns would be addressed, we then asked you to sign this petition requesting your elected officials not to vote for the bill due to the detrimental effect it would have on the Sikh community”, reads United Sikhs’ update.

The civil rights body says hundreds of supporters signed the petition before 2014 Sikh Summit in Washington, DC. The signatories provided a strong backing during the summit.

“We met with the sponsors of the bill and their staff, explaining that this bill was worrisome for our community, applying pressure with the petition’s outreach. By the end of the Summit we had educated the sponsors, their colleagues and staff members about the Sikh religion and our concerns about the bill. The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive; some agreed to vote against the bill and others agreed to at least amend the bill to include a religious accommodation”, reads the update.

The US based body in it’s recent newsletter informed that the Drug Free Commercial Driver Act of 2013 bill was never enacted into law.

About the Bill:

This bill would have allowed motor carriers to use hair testing as a method for detecting use of controlled substances by an operator for pre-employment testing and later random testing. It directed the Secretary of Transportation (“Secretary”) to modify regulations and to develop procedures to allow a motor carrier during the rulemaking process to apply for an exemption from current requirements to allow use of hair testing of operators for controlled substances instead of other methods (such as urinalysis or blood testing). It had been co-sponsored by Representatives Tom Cotton (R-AR), Tim Griffin (R-AR), Reid Ribble (R-WI), Steve Womack (R-AR), Jeff Miller (R-FL), Sean Duffy, (R-WI), Jeff Denham (R-CA), Lou Barletta (R-PA), and Randy Weber (R-TX).

If enacted into law, it would have allowed employers to force a Sikh operator to provide a hair sample, thereby preventing Sikhs from seeking employment as operators due to their inability to cut their hair for any purpose. Once again, Sikhs would have to choose between employment, and their faith.

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