Security Firm Pays $1.9 Million Penalty for Poor Federal Courthouse Guard Training

Monday, October 01, 2012

Akal Security, Inc., the largest provider of security services to the federal government—with a history of costly contractual lapses—has agreed to pay $1.9 million to settle allegations by the U.S. Department of Justice that it did a lousy job of training federal courthouse guards in Northern California.

The company, which has $1.6 billion in contracts with the U.S. Marshals Service to manage court security in all but five states, was accused of giving guards extra time to successfully complete tests that measured their gun skills. The guards were assigned to courthouses in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose.

Akal Security is owned by the Sikh Dharma International, a community founded in the 1970s by Yogi Bhajan, aka Harbhajan Singh Puri. It blends New Age values and orthodox Sikhism, and is headquartered in New Mexico. Sikh Dharma has had internal conflict since Yogi Bhajan died in 2004, exacerbated by an $18 million fine that Akal Security paid in 2007 and a corporate restructuring.

The security company was founded in 1981 and as of 2007 employed 15,000 people worldwide. The company―which provides security services for federal courthouses, immigration detention centers, NASA facilities, embassy construction sites and military installations―has a love-hate relationship with the government.

In July 2007, Akal Security agreed to pay an $18 million settlement for improperly training guards at eight Army bases. The company was hired in 2003 to recruit, screen, hire and train 1,800 guards to do security work, but the government said it failed to provide adequate training on weapons and garrison-specific skills, use of force and administration of first aid.

In December 2010, Akal Security agreed to pay $1.62 million to settle a class-action pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The contractor paid the money to 26 female security guards after it was found to be enforcing a nationwide policy, since 2004, of firing its pregnant employees working on U.S. Army bases, and making them take involuntary leave. The EEOC also said Akal provided worse terms and conditions of employment for the women and retaliated against one employee who complained about the discrimination.

–Ken Broder   


To Learn More:

Court Security Contractor to Pay $1.8 Million to Resolve Allegations that Guards Did Not Undergo Authorized Firearm Qualification Testing (U.S. Department of Justice) (pdf)

Court Security Firm to Pay $1.9M for Lax Gun Tests (Associated Press)

Selling Golden Temple (by Kamalla Rose Kaur, Sikh News Network)

Sikh Group Finds Calling in Homeland Security (by Leslie Wayne, New York Times)

American Sikhs Run Billion-Dollar Security Firm (by John Burnett, NPR)

Akal Security Pays $1.62 Million To Settle EEOC Class Pregnancy Discrimination Claims (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)

Security Firm to Pay $18 Million Settlement (by John Milburn, Associated Press)

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