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IRS Dagger Carrier’s Claims Partly Dismissed

September 1, 2009

The strange case of the former IRS employee who insisted on carrying a ceremonial dagger to the office, until she was fired, has been partially resolved after a judge dismissed most of her legal claims, although she is still allowed to sue Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

The revenue agent, Kawaljeet Kaur Tagore, sued the IRS after she was fired in July 2006 for wearing a “kirpan” to the IRS office in Houston (see Woman Sues IRS After She Is Fired for Wearing Knife to Work). The blunt knife is traditionally worn in a curved sheath and is supposed to act as a reminder of a Sikh’s duty to protect the weak and promote justice for all. Tagore’s supervisor objected to the dagger, even though she claimed it never set off the metal detector in her building, and she was told to work from home.

However, after she was ordered to return to work with a blade no longer than 2.5 inches, she still insisted on carrying a kirpan with a 3-inch blade, whereupon security officers barred her from the building, and she was fired soon afterward.

Tagore filed suit in January of this year, claiming that the government’s conduct violated both the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The defendants included the IRS, the Treasury Department, the Department of Homeland Security, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and several of Tagore's supervisors.

Now the U.S. District Court in Houston has dismissed a number of her claims against various defendants, according to a report on, in part because the Title VII claim pre-empted the RFRA claim in some instances. However, Geithner is still a defendant in the Title VII claim, as are several officials and employees, along with the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Protective Service.

It’s not likely this one will go all the way to the Supreme Court, and I’m not sure we want to set a precedent for allowing IRS agents to carry daggers to the office, even if they do have to deal sometimes with quarrelsome taxpayers.

Comments (1)
Freedom of religion is what this country was founded on. We should make every effort not to trample on this freedom. However, the safety of the general public should preempt the liberal nature of this right. Today we are still concerned with terrorism. People who seem to be "normal" may in fact be new born terrorists. In addition, some tax payers do get irate. It would be too dangerous for an irate taxpayer to grab that knife and do significant harm to people. I think the IRS is correct in barring the weapon.
Posted by normco | Wednesday, September 02 2009 at 10:02AM ET
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