Bangle wrangle: top UK chef faces lawsuit over Sikh’s ‘bracelet’

Bangle wrangle: top UK chef faces lawsuit over Sikh’s ‘bracelet’ September 24, 2021

A SIKH employee at an exclusive dining venue in the City of London is suing his boss for prohibiting him from wearing a kara at work, alleging religious discrimination.

Images via Facebook/Online Sikh Store

According to this report, Niranjit Moorah Singh is suing Michelin-starred Herbert Berger, above, who heads Innholders Hall, for telling him to remove a traditional Sikh bangle. He alleges that Berger kept referring to it as a “bracelet” that could get “stuck in a ladle.”

Writing for Quora, Simon Glass, Ph.D, of the University of Bath, said:

For Sikhs it is not a decorative bracelet! It symbolises the eternity of God. Many Sikhs refer to it as being handcuffed to God.

Singh began working for Austrian-born Berger as “casual staff” at Innholders Hall in 2010.

He worked his way up to the role of a £30,000-a-year assistant manager – but struggled with depression when his employment came to an end amid the pandemic in September 2020.

A London employment tribunal heard the bangle was given to Singh by his late Malaysian grandfather 35 years ago.

In written evidence, Singh said:

Asking someone to remove their religious signs from their body is against the law: can be a cross of Jesus or a hijab.

Berger – who has won three Michelin stars in three different establishments – successfully applied to have  Singh’s claims of religious discrimination thrown out in July.

The tribunal later acknowledged Mr Singh was unaware of the hearing. He has been granted a second opportunity to argue his claim in December.

In 2008, a High Court judge found that a  Sikh teenager – Sarika Watkins-Singh, then 14 – excluded from school for breaking a “no jewellery” rule by refusing to remove her kara was a victim  of indirect discrimination under race relations and equality laws.

Aberdare girls’ school in South Wales had twice suspended Watkins-Singh for refusing to remove the bangle, which her lawyers told Mr Justice Silber was as important to her as it was to England spin bowler and sex-pest Monty Panesar, who has been pictured wearing the bangle.

Watkins-Singh, of mixed Welsh and Punjabi origin, was at first taught in isolation and eventually excluded for refusing to take off the bangle in defiance of the school’s policy. This banned girls from wearing any jewellery other than a wristwatch and plain ear studs.

So, what’s the law regarding jewellery in the a catering environment. The Worksmart website says:

A jewellery and loose clothing ban may be justified to prevent a potential hygiene hazard if you work in areas of food production or areas which need to be kept sterile.

Likewise, your employer can judge that loose jewellery may constitute a snagging hazard if you work with machinery. Your employer is responsible for your health and safety at work, so they need to be cautious in these areas.

Prohibiting loose jewellery such as a cross is likely to be justified on health and safety grounds in a clinical environment, even if the wearer wears the cross because of their religious beliefs.

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