NYC Judge Recommends Reinstating Turban-Clad Cop

April 30, 2004 ( - A New York administrative law judge has ordered that a turban-wearing Sikh traffic police officer should be reinstated to the New York City Police Department (NYPD), finding that he had been discriminated against because of his religion.

Jasjit Singh Jaggi, who quit rather than wear a regulation white cap, should be put back to work and permitted to wear a turban, Administrative Law Judge Donna Merris recommended, according to a New York Daily News report.

Merris said the NYPD failed to prove its chief argument that failure to wear the regulation white, eight-point cap would make Jaggi unrecognizable as a traffic agent and might subject him to racist remarks and assaults.

According to the New York Times, Jaggi, 36, joined the department in 2001, and agreed to remove his turban while seeking a change in policy. He graduated as valedictorian of his NYPD academy class, but the department continued to insist that he not wear a turban.

In June 2002, he filed a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights, and in August he began reporting for work in a turban. Presented with the choice of being fired or resigning, he resigned and moved toVermont. In a resignation letter, Jaggi explained, “It is very humiliating and depressing for me to work every day in this hybrid and insulting appearance of a ‘cap’ instead of a turban. “No one in the department has ever objected to my uncut beard, which is also against the regulations.”

He told the Times this week that he would move back toQueens if he were reinstated.

Merris’opinion is only a recommendation and must be formalized in a final order by the human rights commissioner, Patricia. Gatling. The city can appeal.