The NYPD prevailed under Title VII because it carried its burden of showing that an accommodation would create "undue hardship." The New York City Human Rights Law similarly requires accommodation, but has a definition of "undue hardship" that creates a much higher hurdle for the employer. NYPD failed to meet that test. Analyzing plaintiff's 1st Amendment free exercise claim, the court concluded that strict scrutiny should be applied:
Here, the undisputed record demonstrates that de facto exemptions to the one-millimeter rule abound. The ... NYPD provides temporary exemptions to police officers who grow beards beyond the one-millimeter limit for special occasions, such as religious holidays, weddings, and funerals.... Defendants also admit that the NYPD has police officers with beards in excess of one-millimeter in length, not only because of formal exemptions due to undercover assignments, but also because the NYPD does not always enforce its personal appearance standards.... Because there is evidence that the NYPD exercises discretion with respect to a facially neutral rule in a discriminatory fashion, strict scrutiny is appropriate.New York Daily News reports on the decision.