Thursday, June 14, 2007

Court Rejects Muslim Officer's Challenge To Police Uniform Requirements

In Webb v. City of Philadelphia, (ED PA, June 12, 2007), a Pennsylvania federal district judge rejected a Title VII religious discrimination claim by a Muslim police officer who wanted to cover her head for religious reasons with a khimar ("a traditional garment ... which covers the hair forehead, sides of the head, neck, shoulders and chest"). She planned to tuck the lower portion inside her police shirt and wear her police hat. The court held:

Prohibiting religious symbols and attire helps to prevent any divisiveness on the basis of religion both within the force itself and when it encounters the diverse population of Philadelphia.... Police Directive 78 is designed to maintain religious neutrality, but in this case in a para-military organization for the good not only of the police officers themselves but also of the public in general. Under the circumstances, it would clearly cause the City an undue hardship if it had to allow plaintiff to wear a khimar.
The court also rejected plaintiff's claim of a hostile work environment and retaliation. The Associated Press yesterday reported on the decision. [Thanks to How Appealing for posting the opinion.]