Judge Rules: Philadelphia Police Wrongly Barred Officer From Wearing Hijab

December 12, 2003

Source: The Associated Press


On December 12, 2003 The Associated Press reported that "federal authorities say Philadelphia police wrongly barred a female officer from wearing a Muslim head scarf, a ruling that could lead to a civil rights lawsuit against the city.

The local U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office ruled last month that the department appeared to have violated the rights of Kimberlie Webb, 41, who has been on the force for eight years.

The EEOC said the department lacked valid reason or legal precedent in threatening to fire Webb after she came to work Aug. 12 wearing the dark blue hijab, also known as a khimar, on the top and back of her head.

The city declined the EEOC offer of conciliation services, according to Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson. Under EEOC policy, the matter is then referred to the Justice Department, which could file a civil rights lawsuit against the city.

Webb's attorney, Craig Thorp, said she had received an EEOC notice saying that the matter had been referred to Washington.

'This is an issue where her fundamental rights are very well established,' Thorp said. 'I'm flabbergasted that the city won't acknowledge she has this right.'"