UPDATE] Thank You for Your Support: Hair Sampling Bill Not Enacted into Law

On: 28 January, 2015

USA- The Drug Free Commercial Driver Act of 2013 (H.R. 3403) was a bill proposed on October 30, 2013 by Congressman Eric "Rick" Crawford (R-AR) who introduced the Drug Free Commercial Driver Act of 2013. The bill proposed to allow motor carriers to force a Sikh operator to provide a hair sample.

Our Advocacy
Last year, UNITED SIKHS took action and reached out to the main sponsor of the bill and created dialogue about our concerns. We informed Congressman Crawford's staffers about the Sikh religion, its articles of faith, and the importance of uncut hair. After receiving limited security that our concerns would be addressed, we then asked you to sign this petition requesting your elected officials not to vote for the bill due to the detrimental effect it would have on the Sikh community.

Hundreds of you signed the petition before our 2014 Sikh Summit in Washington, DC. The signatories provided a strong backing during the summit. We met with the sponsors of the bill and their staff, explaining that this bill was worrisome for our community, applying pressure with the petition's outreach. By the end of the Summit we had educated the sponsors, their colleagues and staff members about the Sikh religion and our concerns about the bill. The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive; some agreed to vote against the bill and others agreed to at least amend the bill to include a religious accommodation.

Now, with the New Year and a new congress, we are pleased to inform you that The Drug Free Commercial Driver Act of 2013 bill was never enacted into law. We would like to thank those of you who signed the petition and/or joined us at our annual Summit to voice these concerns to your congressmen.

About the Bill
This bill would have allowed motor carriers to use hair testing as a method for detecting use of controlled substances by an operator for pre-employment testing and later random testing. It directed the Secretary of Transportation ("Secretary") to modify regulations and to develop procedures to allow a motor carrier during the rulemaking process to apply for an exemption from current requirements to allow use of hair testing of operators for controlled substances instead of other methods (such as urinalysis or blood testing). It had been co-sponsored by Representatives Tom Cotton (R-AR), Tim Griffin (R-AR), Reid Ribble (R-WI), Steve Womack (R-AR), Jeff Miller (R-FL), Sean Duffy, (R-WI), Jeff Denham (R-CA), Lou Barletta (R-PA), and Randy Weber (R-TX).

If enacted into law, it would have allowed employers to force a Sikh operator to provide a hair sample, thereby preventing Sikhs from seeking employment as operators due to their inability to cut their hair for any purpose. Once again, Sikhs would have to choose between employment, and their faith.

At UNITED SIKHS we are committed to protecting your religious freedom and will continue to monitor legislation and advocate for or against policies affecting your rights.

To read our previous release on this click here.

Issued By:
Anisha Singh
Policy Attorney
International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy