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Sikh bus driver wins right to wear turban in Vantaa

The Ombudsman for Minorities has hailed the decision as a move toward greater diversity in Finnish workplaces.

Gill Sukhdarshan Singh
Gill Sukhdarshan Singh helps his son to put on a turban. Image: Yle

A bus company’s ban on a driver’s use of a Sikh turban was discriminatory, the Southern Finland Regional State Administrative Agency has declared.

The agency says that the bus company Veolia’s ban on the use of the traditional headgear by Vantaa driver Gill Sukhdarshan Singh placed him in an unfavourable position due to his religious beliefs.

Finland’s Ombudsman for Minorities, Eva Biaudet, applauded the decision, calling it a significant step forward in engendering diversity in the workplace.

Gill Sukhdarshan Singh, who has lived in Finland for more than 20 years, decided to begin wearing the traditional turban last winter. A couple of months later, the bus company ordered him to stop doing so.

"Common sense won out"

In a decision dated June 25, the agency states that Veolia Transport Vantaa was guilty of indirect discrimination. It ordered the firm to report by the end of September as to how it plans to redress the problem.

Biaudet released a statement on Thursday saying that the decision “significantly advances equal handling of ethnic and religious minorities in Finland...One could say that common sense won out, since Veolia has long allowed drivers to wear turbans in Sweden, for instance,” she added.

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