Is a turban the same as a hat?
That question has stoked a debate about religious freedom that's pitting a local medical student against a Costa Mesa nightclub.
Sanjum Paul Singh Samagh, a 24-year-old living on campus at UC Irvine, says Sikh attire cost him entry to the Pierce Street Annex bar, where the dress code prohibits hats.
On Jan. 25, Samagh arrived at the watering hole with about 20 friends. The bar's owner refused to let him in, citing the dress code, Samagh and several friends say.
"It's not a fashion statement I'm trying to make," Samagh recalled telling the owner, explaining that his black cotton turban, or dastaar, is worn for religious reasons....
The incident's legal underpinnings are unclear.
Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor, said that under state law, the bar would only be liable if it intentionally discriminated. The dress code "may burden Sikhs ... more than it burdens others, but ... that's not something the bar has to worry about," Volokh said. Under federal law, Samagh might have a case, because rulings have varied, Volokh added....
Friends of Samagh's who were at Pierce Street Annex say that while they disagree with Adsit, the bar owner was polite. "He was not disrespectful," friend Paola Case recalled. "He said, 'Ma'am, this is not a policy intended to discriminate against people.'" [Link]
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