Beldock Levine & Hoffman LLP is proud to announce a victory in the class action Syed v. City of New York, No. 16 Civ. 4789 (PGG). Officers with sincerely held religious beliefs are now authorized to request a religious accommodation to wear their beards at up to ½ inch. The NYPD’s previous banned all beards, accepting an accommodation for religious or medical reasons up to only 1 millimeter.
On June 22, BLH lawyers, including Jonathan C. Moore and Luna Droubi, filed a class action complaint in Manhattan federal court challenging the NYPD’s “no beard” policy. The complaint charges that the policy, and the NYPD’s irregular enforcement of the policy, is unconstitutional.
Today, the NYPD announcement a change in its religious accommodation policy with respect to beards, allowing for an accommodation of up to ½ inch. The changed policy is an admission that the previous beard policy was unconstitutional, and is a major victory for officers who have fought for their First Amendment right to express their religious beliefs. BLH intends to continue its fight to ensure that the policy is an adequate reflection of the religious beliefs of its clients.
BLH Attorney Jonathan Moore said, “We welcome the Commissioner O’Neill’s announcement that the NYPD has voluntarily agreed to change its no beard policy.” Moore added, “We sued because the 1 millimeter policy was no policy at all and was an unconstitutional denial of the religious expression of NYPD officers. By changing the policy to permit beards of at least ½ inch, the NYPD is acknowledging that its prior policy was unconstitutional.”
BLH Attorney Luna Droubi said, “The NYPD’s revised policy is an important step in accurately representing the constituency it protects and serves. BLH looks forward to reviewing the new policy and ensuring that it adequately protects the right of these individuals to express their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
New York Times