MTA officially settles with Sikhs and Muslims on ‘brand or segregate’ policy

Earlier this month and as a result of a seven-year long legal challenge, New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), which oversees public transit in the city, agreed in principle to eliminate the requirement that Sikhs or Muslims who wear religious head-coverings to affix a corporate logo on the head-covering, or be segregated out of public view.  This policy was coined as “brand or segregate”.

The settlement was officially filed in federal court today, and includes:

  • Transit Authority employees will no longer be forced to choose between branding their religious head coverings with the logo for the rail and bus operator’s parent, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, or working in jobs out of the public view.
  • Bus drivers, train operators, conductors and station agents will now be allowed to wear their headscarves, turbans and other religious head wear, provided they are in the same blue color as their transit uniforms, according to court papers.
  • The Transit Authority has also agreed to pay monetary settlements totaling at least $184,500 to eight Sikh and Muslim current and former employees who filed employment discrimination claims, according to court documents.


  • …the settlement contains no finding of fault or liability, just modifies the uniform policy so employees can wear “turbans, headscarves and certain other forms of headwear…”

It is regrettable that this policy was put into effect apparently in response to 9/11, and that it took seven years for the policy to be changed, however it’s great news that resolution has now come and the discriminatory policy has been eliminated.

(The video above is of a press conference in 2009 by Sikhs opposed to the discriminatory MTA policy)


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