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US nursing home sued over kirpan

india Updated: Mar 08, 2008 03:02 IST

One of the largest nursing home chains in the US has been sued for firing a Sikh employee, who refused to remove her kirpan while on duty, allegedly in violation of federal laws.

Baljit Kaur Bhandal, a dietary aide employed at a Manor Care Health Services in California, was given an ultimatum by the company to remove her kirpan - a ceremonial knife worn under her clothing - while at work or lose her job, a lawsuit filed by Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claimed.

Bhandal "was constructively discharged from her employment when she determined that she could not violate the requirements of her religion in order to keep her job," the suit filed in the Sacramento court said.

Bhandal was working at the nursing home for more than a year. In May, 2006, a co-worker brought Bhandal's kirpan to the attention of her supervisor saying it could potentially be used as a weapon, Sacramento Bee reported.

The suit states the company's action violated federal civil rights laws meant "to correct unlawful employment practices on the basis of religion."

ManorCare corporate spokeswoman Kelly Kessler said "Once we receive the suit, we will review it and respond accordingly. It is our policy not to discuss pending lawsuits."