Many law enforcement agencies demand that their officer/agents be clear-shaven at all times because they believe, without a scintilla of evidence, that makes them more effective. But a large number of officers/agents believe that intrudes unnecessarily on their personal lives. After all, it is not like a man can end his shift at 5 p.m. and grow a beard before going out that night. NTEU stood up for Customs and Border Protection Officers of Homeland Security and won the right via an FSIP decision for their CBPO members to wear “neat, trimmed and properly groomed” facial hair between ½” to 1” in length. (See NTEU 2012 FSIP 010 (2011)) But the last few weeks have brought more good news for those opposed to an employer’s facial hair ban, including cops.
A NYC cop was fired for wearing facial hair longer that a single millimeter despite the fact that he was in the top 1% of his academy class. He was also an Hasidic Jew whose religion requires facial hair on men. When he hired a lawyer to sue the department for discrimination in federal court, the judge promptly agreed with him and ordered his reinstatement. (Check out Fishel Litzman’s case.)
A few days after Fishel’s victory, Gupreet Singh Kherha, a Sikh, settled a discrimination claim against a car dealership that prohibited bears—apparently because someone thought it unbecoming of a car salesman. He got $50,000 in back pay and his job back.
Neither of these cases suggests that law enforcement officers/agents can report for duty looking like distant-cousin extras on “Duck Dynasty.” But they do kick open the door to more reasonable discussions at bargaining tables over what should be allowed.