New York Police Dept reinstates Muslim officer suspended over beard

The no-beard policy is unconstitutional, says judge

Reuters July 03, 2016
The no-beard policy is unconstitutional, says judge PHOTO: AP

A Muslim policeman who sued the New York City Police Department after he was suspended for refusing to shave his beard has been reinstated and the department has agreed to review its ban on beards, his lawyers said on Thursday.

A judge last week ordered the NYPD to continue paying Officer Masood Syed his salary and benefits after he sued the department, claiming that the no-beard policy was unconstitutional.

Vicars should grow beards to reach out to Muslim community: Bishop of London

"It seems like the department has taken the crucial first step in addressing an important and growing concern of officers of many different faiths," Syed said in a statement released by his attorneys.

"I am hopeful that the department’s new policy will in fact allow myself and other officers to wear our beards at a reasonable length without the fear of retaliation or hostility," he said.

An NYPD spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday evening.

In a letter sent to the judge and provided to news outlets by Syed's attorneys, the city's law department asks that a hearing scheduled for July 8 in the case be adjourned because the officer had been "restored to full duty" and the two sides were discussing a resolution of the lawsuit.

The NYPD's written policy is that officers cannot wear beards, but an unwritten policy designed to provide religious accommodation allows for beards of up to 1 millimeter long, according to the lawsuit.

Muslim man refused entry into Georgia ‘because of beard’

Syed, a law clerk in the department, has worn a beard of about 1/2 to 1 inch (13 to 25 mm) for years for religious reasons.

In December, according to the lawsuit, he was told by supervisors that his beard was too long and ordered to shorten it. When he did not, he was suspended, according to the complaint.

In 2013, a Hasidic Jewish probationary officer won a lawsuit against the department over the same policy.

US District Judge Harold Baer ruled in 2013 that the policy violated the First Amendment guarantee of free religious exercise.

The Hasidic officer, Fishel Litzman, was allowed to return to work with a beard of around 1 inch, according to Syed's lawyer.


mike | 7 years ago | Reply The beard policy is in place in case the officer needs to wear a gas mask it will seal properly. He would have known that when first hired. My guess is he did, then grew the beard once he pasted his probation period and reached permanent status. Why is this Country so quick to change the laws for other religions and so fast to stomp the American Flag and the word "God"? Well when you elect someone named Barack Hussein Obama as president, it follows suite.
Ahsan Khan | 7 years ago | Reply @Ajeet: There are way more bearded people in the west than Arabia.
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ