Pilot claims denied Emirates job for wearing turban

Sikh man says he was disqualified over refusal to replace the religious headdress with an official pilot’s cap while on duty

A Sikh pilot has alleged that Dubai’s Emirates Airline discriminated against him during the recruitment process due to him wearing a turban, it was reported.

The unnamed pilot, an Indian national, claimed to IBN Live that he was disqualified from the carrier’s interviewing process as he refused to replace the religious headdress with an official pilot’s cap while on duty.

The man, who is said to have more than nine years experience as a pilot, told the newspaper that Emirates informed him that he would not be offered a position if he refused to wear a pilot’s hat.

"If they have any policy against turbaned Sikhs they should come forward and it should be mentioned that turbaned Sikhs should not apply. I applied, I got a call, was about to leave and just for my satisfaction wanted to know if there was a certain bias and to my shock got to know that there was a bias that is currently going on. It is uncalled for, unheard of. If you do fulfill the requirements, you should be taken on merit rather than on your religious belief or the way you look," the pilot reportedly told the newspaper.

As part of observing their religion, Sikh men do not cut their hair and wear it inside a turban, also known as a dastar.

"All employees of the airline must adhere to the uniform guidelines of their role – for pilots, this includes wearing a hat while on duty. We currently have many Sikh pilots who work for us and follow the uniform policy," an Emirates Spokesperson told Arabian Business. "Emirates is a global, multicultural company, employing more than 50,000 people from 163 countries. The diversity of our workforce is one foundation of our success. The range of nationalities, cultures, religious and ethnic backgrounds enriches our company by bringing new ideas and thinking styles, which lead to a better run, more successful organisation."

Earlier this year, a male Virgin Australia flight attendant won an appeal against unfair dismissal for wearing long hair by arguing he had a medically diagnosed body image disorder.

The employee was sacked in October 2011 for disobeying the airline’s style guide, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

David Taleski had been in a battle with Virgin, including involving CEO John Borghetti, over his haircut for 15 months before being sacked.

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Posted by: Billy

Good decision Emirates. You need to be seen to be very strict with all of your rules and no one man can be seen to change them for his own personal reasons. I think it instills great confidence in Emirates - they have high standards and are prepared to stick rigidly to them - makes me think they also do this with their safety rules as well. Hats off to Emirates....if you pardon the pun.

Posted by: Singh

I feel as long as the Emirates Insignia can be added to the turban and the color matches that of the hats, there should be no problem. Afterall the hat is not aiding the pilot and the turban will not hinder the pilot.

During WWII, the British passed a special resolution to allow Sikh soldiers to adorn turbans instead of helmets. The US Army now allows Sikhs with turbans as enlisted officers as does UK.

And ofcourse there are dozens of turbaned Sikhs working for Emirates as Ground staff & Mechanics so it should just be a matter of a slight chage in the uniform policy to accomodate this head gear as long as the color is same and insignia is visible.

Sikh officers wearing turbans and a uniform do look extremely smart and will definitely not bring down the image of the position. One can check with British Airways, Air India, Oman Air, Air Canada, Jet Airways, RAF and IAF who employ turbaned Sikhs.

Posted by: Glen

Religion has to do with Faith and Practice. In other words "this is what I believe" and "this is what I am required to do". It appears that there are pilots who are prepared to abide by the rule of the employer and do what is required. If anyone decides that they are not willing to abide by the rules, then accept the fact that you will not receive an offer. It is your right to abide by your beliefs and accept the consequences. Or do you expect everyone to change for you?

Posted by: Lav Kumar

3 words. Work is Worship. Respect your work place and I am sure god will understand. Peace.

Posted by: lol

The job he is applying for is based in Dubai. Once again, I repeat, Cabin crew are not permitted to wear a hijab, turban, burqa, niqab, crucifix, jewish Hat or any other religious symbolism. Same as pilots/cockpit crew. GET OVER IT. No one cares if he is a good pilot or that Emirates flies 300x a day to India, uniform standard is uniform standard, why should Emirates make an exception for one person who refused to adjust? You think emirati pilots are permitted to have huge beard and say its for 'religious purposes' think again!

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