Courtroom interior_newWritten by Don Byrd

[UPDATE 3/7: A federal judge has issued an injunction halting the Army’s testing plan because it is a substantial burden on Singh’s religious exercise that is not required of other soldiers who are provided with accommodation for other reasons. You can read the ruling here.]

U.S. Army Captain Simratpal Singh has filed suit against the military for what he claims is discriminatory treatment due to the requirements of his Sikh faith. Late last year, the Army granted a temporary religious accommodation to Singh allowing him to wear a beard and turban. Now, the Army is asking him to undergo testing with helmets, safety masks, and gas masks that is far more rigorous, he claims, than that required of other soldiers.

In a court filing yesterday, Singh requested a halt to the planned tests, and argued the grooming requirements substantially burden his religious exercise in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

Here is an excerpt. 

Captain Singh is more than willing to undergo the same safety testing as all other soldiers, but he objects to Defendants treating him differently because of his Sikh religion. . .  The military’s discriminatory treatment of Captain Singh because of his religion is entirely unlawful. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) forbids the military from suppressing a soldier’s religious exercise unless it has a compelling interest that cannot be met in a less restrictive way.

Stay tuned.