The Philadelphia School District agreed to revise its policy over the length of beards following a suit filed by the Department of Justice. The District had a code of appearance and grooming which prohibited any school police officer from having a beard more than a quarter of an inch in length. Abu-Bakr, who has worked as a police officer at a Philadelphia school since 1987 said the new regulations conflicted with his Muslim faith, which prohibits him from cutting his beard. When Bakr told his supervisor he could not comply with the regulations, he was given a reprimand.
Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, Jocelyn Samuels said, “Individuals should not have to choose between maintaining their jobs and practicing their faith when accommodations can be reasonably made.” Abu-Bakr filed his complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission, but the organization determined that there was no reasonable cause to think discrimination was to blame. When the Equal Opportunity Commission notified the Justice Department, it was concluded that Abu-Bakr was asking for a “reasonable accommodation.”
Under the agreement, the Philadelphia School District agreed to change its grooming and appearance policy for officers, undertake mandatory training on religious accommodation for supervisors, and to pay damages to Abu-Bakr and two others who were in his situation.