‘No beards’ policy likely to amount to ‘no Sikhs policy’, rules British judge

Sikh blocked from working at top London hotels over beard wins £7k - Report

Raman Sethi, right, outside the Central London Employment Tribunal with his barrister, Mukhtiar Singh – Photo: Champion News / The Standard

A Sikh backpacker who was blocked from working at top hotels including Claridge’s after being told they had a “no beards” policy has been awarded more than £7,000 in compensation, according to a report.

Raman Sethi, 34, sought shifts with Elements Personnel agency but was told he would not be accepted as “no facial hair is part of the five-star standards”.

The agency, which provides staff to London’s top hotels, told New Zealander Mr Sethi it was not worth his while being on their books as his beard, untrimmed as a religious requirement, meant he would not get many shifts, reports The Standard.


When he sued them for discrimination and loss of earnings, Elements produced emails from The Connaught complaining about workers being “not shaved”, The Dorchester rejecting staff who had beards or moustaches and a message from Claridge’s saying: “No pony tails, no facial hair.”

However, Judge Holly Stout, sitting at Central London employment tribunal, found the agency’s “no beards” policy amounted to discrimination.

“It places Sikhs at a disadvantage because it is a fundamental tenet of the Sikh faith, to which Mr Sethi adheres, for a male to have an uncut beard,” she ruled.

The judge added: “The agency has not produced evidence of clients being asked whether they would accept a Sikh working for them who could not shave for religious reasons.”

Mr Sethi was signed up by Elements after attending a recruitment event in November 2017. He was awarded £7,102.17 in compensation, which included £5,000 for “injury to feelings”.

In her ruling, Judge Stout said: “Given the importance to Sikhs of not cutting facial hair, a ‘no beards’ policy is likely to amount to a ‘no Sikhs policy’.”

A spokeswoman for The Dorchester said: “We have grooming standards but we make exceptions for religious and medical reasons. We have guidelines for the employment agencies we work with and will reiterate these.”

In a statement the Maybourne Hotel Group said: “Claridge’s, The Connaught and The Berkeley are equal-opportunity employers. We have a number of staff with facial hair, both for religious and personal reasons.”

Read the original story, Sikh blocked from working at top London hotels over beard wins £7k (The Standard, 4 Dec 2019), here.


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  1. Is this not a tragedy that in some countries some Sikhs fight legal battles to have the right to keep turbans and beards while some Sikhs [and even Kaurs] cut/trim
    pr even color] their hair in the name of convenience or fashion while justifying that Sikhi is in their hearts and thus not necessary to have to show outside?

    This is an observation and thus apologies as not intended to offend or insult any one as Religion is said to be personal.
    Gur Fateh