On behalf of Siddiq Abu-Bakr, the Department of Justice filed suit against the School District of Philadelphia for alleged religious discrimination. Abu-Bakr has worked for the school district as a police officer for 27 years and is Muslim. In 2010, the district implemented a policy that prohibits school police officers from having facial hair that is longer than one quarter inch. In observance of his Islamic faith, Abu-Bakr maintains a beard that is longer than a quarter inch.
As described in this article, when Abu-Bakr requested religious accommodation from the district to maintain his beard length, the district denied his request, and according to the suit, the district maintained a policy denying religious accommodation to school police officers in regards to beard length.
The lawsuit argues that by failing to accommodate Abu-Bakr and other similarly situated employees,the school district was in strict violation Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The settlement reached between the school district and the United States requires that the district implement a revised school police officer policy which allows officers the opportunity to request religious accommodation without fear of negative repercussions from the district. The school district has also agreed to provide religious accommodation training to all supervisors, managers, human resource officials and other individuals who may be benefit from such training.
Attorney for the Civil Rights Division, “We are pleased that the school district of Philadelphia has agreed to develop a revised policy that will allow school police officers to request religious accommodations without posing an undue hardship on the school district.”
If you or someone you know thinks they have experienced discrimination due to religious beliefs, the team at Radford & Keebaugh can help. Contact us by phone at (678) 369-3609 or use our contact form.