City Can't Ask Muslim Firefighter to Shave Beard


A Philadelphia firefighter who is a practicing Muslim should not have to shave his beard in order to stay on the job, a common pleas judge has ruled in a decision that is apparently the first to interpret Pennsylvania's Religious Freedom Protection Act. In DeVeaux v. City of Philadelphia, Judge Joseph A. Dych argued that the Commonwealth Court should affirm his decision to grant Curtis DeVeaux a preliminary injunction. According to Dych's opinion, DeVeaux has been suspended since February without pay for refusing to shave his beard as required by Fire Department Directive No. 13. "It appears to be undisputed, and in any event the record clearly establishes, that Fire Department Directive #13 imposes a substantial burden upon plaintiff's free exercise of religion by, inter alia, forcing him to chose between his religion and his job," Dych wrote. (MORE)

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