Muslim Man Sues Employer Over Grooming Policy

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Religion exemption for grooming policy?

Muslim Security Guard Files Suit Claiming He Was Fired for Wearing a Beard

And of course, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is involved.  Via Seattle Weekly: Abdulkadir Omar wears a beard for religious reasons. The security firm that hired him in the spring of 2009–a California-based outfit that broadcasts its conservative leanings with the name American Patriot Security (nice how they assume that just because of their name)–didn’t seem to have a problem with that. But then it did, as Omar plans to tell reporters today at a press conference organized by CAIR.
According to a suit he filed last month in the U.S. District Court for Western Washington, American Patriot informed Omar after about five months of work as a security guard that his beard violated the firm’s “grooming policy.”
Omar contacted the local office of CAIR, which wrote the company a letter explaining how his beard was an outgrowth of his religious beliefs. The letter failed to persuade American Patriot CEO Scott Jacobs, who told Omar that if he didn’t shave, he wouldn’t work, according to the suit. Omar refused, and that was the end of his career at American Patriot.
Perhaps Jacobs, who couldn’t be reached for comment this morning, was influenced by his law-enforcement background (again, another assumption by Seattle Weekly). According to his firm’s website, the American Patriot CEO spent 11 years as a deputy for the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.
In fact, employers are obligated by state and federal anti-discrimination laws to make such accommodations, according to Omar’s suit. CAIR says Omar already has a ruling from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (no link provided) saying that he was wrongfully terminated. Now, Omar is hauling American Patriot into court for back wages he says he’s due and a reform of the company’s policies.
Federal anti-discrimination laws state the following:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin;
  • The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSRA) prohibits any employee who has authority to take certain personnel actions from discriminating for or against employees or applicants for employment on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion;
  • Discriminatory practices of employment decisions based on stereotypes or assumptions about the abilities, traits, or performance of individuals of a certain sex, race, age, religion;
  • Denying employment opportunities to a person because of marriage to, or association with, an individual of a particular race, religion; and
  • Title VII prohibits not only intentional discrimination, but also practices that have the effect of discriminating against individuals because of their race, color, national origin, religion, or sex.

I’m no legal scholar but doesn’t this mean that an employer can’t discriminate a candidate based on the religion they choose to practice?  American Patriot did hire him.  But why must a private employer be forced to make exceptions for the mandates of the religion that you choose?  Isn’t the private employer entitled to have company-wide standards?  Washington State is an “at-will” employment state, meaning at-will employees may be terminated for any reason, so long as it is not illegal. It also means an employer can’t discriminate based on “personal characteristics” that are not job-related.
Characteristic is defined as “a distinguishing trait or quality”.  As I understand it, a beard is not a “personal characteristic”.  It’s not a “trait“- a personal character. A beard is a personal choice (not an inherent characteristic) to grow facial hair that Omar made to comply with his religion.  If that is what he chooses above his employer’s company standards, then he should look elsewhere for a job.

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0 responses to “Muslim Man Sues Employer Over Grooming Policy

  1. Sheik Yerbouti

    Steve is correct!

  2. Omar should look for another job, one that allows him to grow a beard, appear naked, wear a turban and even show up with a flag coming out of his rear end. Did anyone ever hear of working to support yourself and your family, or has that gone out the window along with common sense? I hope Omar loses his case and has to pay all court costs for both sides. I’m sure his religion will pay for it!
    Clifton Lee West

    • “Omar should look for another job, one that allows him to grow a beard, appear naked, wear a turban and even show up with a flag coming out of his rear end.”
      Omar should head to San Francisco! Hey, the city is even a “sanctuary city” that vows to protect illegal aliens. They’ll love Omar. 😀

  3. Firing someone because they have a beard doesn’t make sense unless the beard is unkempt or so long that it’s a safety hazard. I don’t think a beard would interfere with the ability of anyone to do their job, unless it somehow got in the way.
    This brought to mind an incident that occurred at a store where a friend worked. One of the men decided to grow a beard and after about a week he was asked to shave it off because it “didn’t look professional”. He refused and was suspended for several days. The manager then created a new policy that facial hair was against store policy. Most of the men at the store reacted by immediately starting to grow beards. The “no facial hair” policy ended after about a week. lol

    • I totally disagree. A privately-owned business has every right to set whatever dress and personal-grooming code it wants. Any employee who doesn’t like the policy can go look for employment elsewhere. That’s the free enterprise system. Or is a Big Brother State the kind of country you want.
      Oops, me bad. We are already in a Big Brother State. LOL

      • Employers do have a right to have a dress code, etc., even if it doesn’t make sense.
        Big Brother is already too big, attempting to poke it’s nose into our personal privacy and decisions. If what we do isn’t causing harm to others then we should be free to do it as long as we understand the consequences and responsibilities involved.
        Instead of being taught *how* to think, people are being taught *what* to think, and not knowing how to think critically and open-mindedly they are generally clueless.

        • “Even if it doesn’t make sense”? Well, that may be your opinion yet business owners are entitled to their opinions on how they want their employees to be perceived (professional) by their clients.
          Your personal privacy and decisions are just that – personal. Yet when you go to work for an employer, it’s no longer personal. It’s a reflection on them and their business.
          A dress code is a must in my opinion, especially in Seattle. People here tend to wear their Birkenstocks/socks and khakis all to often and could use a lession in professional fashion 🙂

    • We have a dress code policy at work. No denim except on Fridays. No way am I going to start wearing denim everyday to try and change my employer’s policy. I accepted the position here and will gladly abide by their dress code policies. Period.

  4. Will see if I can find more information later tonight. Story was lacking those details…

  5. Just heard Omar on the radio and he says he had the beard when hired. Can’t confirm with the company because they didn’t want to comment publicly.

    • Who knows….you know the media and how well they report the facts.
      I’m leary of him, especially since CAIR is involved. They are always up to no good!

  6. Sheik Yerbouti

    Disney wants no facial hair, no visible tatoos; but encourage the wearing of very large ears, and the playing of mind numbing music, over and over.


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