Court Upholds Police Department's Uniform Guidelines

April 9, 2009

Author: Dwight Ott

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

A federal appeals court has upheld the Philadelphia Police Department's policy that forbids officers to wear Muslim head scarves on the job.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruling, issued Tuesday, affirmed a lower court's ruling in a 2005 lawsuit filed by Officer Kimberlie Webb of the 35th Police District. Webb, who became a Sunni Muslim two years after joining the force in 1995, contended that the ban on the scarves, known as hijabs, violated her civil rights.

In 2007, a federal judge ruled in the city's favor, and the Third Circuit said accommodating Webb would severely damage the department's appearance of "religious neutrality."

Webb said yesterday that she was disappointed, adding that many Muslims believe it is an obligation to wear head scarves. "It is a show of modesty," she said. "It is [Allah's] command."