Judge Rules Safety Trumps Religious Protection in Muslim Firefighter Case

September 23, 2005

Source: The Muslim News

Wire Service: AP


On September 23, 2005 the Associated Press reported, "A Muslim firefighter cannot wear a beard on the job because of the safety risk that facial hair poses, a judge ruled yesterday. Curtis De Veaux sued the city on grounds that the ban infringed on his Muslim faith, which generally requires men to grow beards. But the state judge sided with the city, calling safety a compelling interest that warrants an exception under the Pennsylvania Religious Freedom Protection Act. The city had argued that beards interfere with the tight seal firefighters need on their respiratory masks, which deliver oxygen and keep out dangerous toxins. The American Civil Liberties Union's local chapter, which represented De Veaux, plans to appeal the ruling to Commonwealth Court, lawyer Mary Catherine Roper said... Last month, a federal judge ordered officials in Washington, D.C. to fit-test three Muslim firefighters who sued on similar grounds. The ACLU also represents those plaintiffs."