Sikh woman sues America’s IRS for right to wear kirpan

An Indian-American Sikh woman has sued the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for allegedly violating her religious freedom by prohibiting her from wearing...

Houstan | Published:January 10, 2009 11:49 pm

An Indian-American Sikh woman has sued the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for allegedly violating her religious freedom by prohibiting her from wearing kirpan to her job as a revenue agent. Kawaljeet Kaur Tagore,who worked as a revenue agent at the Mickey Leland Federal Building in downtown Houston,sued her employer IRS in Houston federal court on Tuesday with the aid of Sikh coalition and the DC-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and Houston civil rights attorney Scott Newar. Kawaljeet Kaur Tagore,35,has filed the discrimination case after she was told in July 2006 that she could not wear her kirpan. “There’s never been any allegation that she had somehow taken the kirpan and used it as a weapon — that’s not what its purpose is,” Newar said. “It’s a symbolic religious article that Sikhs have carried for centuries. It’s like a Cross,it’s like a Star of David,it’s like any other religious ornament. It just happens to have a blade,” the civil rights attorney added. The IRS spokeswoman Lea Crusberg,however,declined to comment on pending litigation. In July 2006,Kawaljeet was dismissed from work as she refused to remove her kirpan,a religious item that initiated Sikhs are required to wear at all times.

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