LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas-based trucking company J.B. Hunt has agreed to pay $260,000 to settle discrimination allegations by four Sikh truck drivers who were denied jobs in California after they refused to take drug tests that would have violated their religious beliefs.
The company, headquartered in Lowell, was accused of refusing to accommodate three drivers after they refused for religious reasons to cut their hair for drug testing. The fourth driver alleged that he was denied a job after he refused for religious reasons to remove his turban while providing a urine sample.
In addition to the monetary settlement, J.B. Hunt agreed to change its policies and practices to comply with federal anti-discrimination laws. The company must train its hiring personnel on anti-discrimination law and submit reports on its anti-discrimination efforts to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for the next two years.
The settlement follows a seven-year investigation by the EEOC.
An email to J.B. Hunt seeking comment was not immediately returned Tuesday.
“I am relieved by this resolution because no one should have to face humiliation because of their religious beliefs,” the lead complainant, Jagtar Singh Anandpuri, said in a statement Tuesday. “I have been driving a truck for years, and I know there is nothing about my faith that interferes with my ability to do my job.”
Harsimran Kauer, legal director for the Sikh Coalition, which represents the four drivers, said in a statement, “Our clients repeatedly asked for alternatives within the drug testing regimes that would allow them to follow their religious tenets, and those requests were denied. Thankfully, J.B. Hunt has finally switched gears and moved into the right lane to comply with federal anti-discrimination law.”