New York - Masood Syed, a 10-year NYPD police officer, was suspended on Tuesday without pay for 30 days for refusing to shave his beard.
New York – Masood Syed, a 10-year NYPD police officer, was suspended on Tuesday without pay for 30 days for refusing to shave his beard.
According to the NY Daily News, Syed, 30, wears the beard, which is less than an inch long, in observance of his Sunni Muslim faith. The NYPD maintains a “no beard” policy, though facial hair is generally permitted up to one millimeter if it is kept for religious reasons.
Three years ago, Hasidic cop Fishel Litzman had encountered a similar problem with the NYPD. The Manhattan judge ruled in his favor.
Syed sued the NYPD this morning in an emergency hearing, arguing that the agency’s no-beard policy is unconstitutional. During the hearing, city Law Department lawyer Michael Fleming argued that the NYPD’s 1-millimeter length requirement is upheld to make sure MSA gas masks can fit on police offers’ faces. Syed’s lawyer, Joshua Moskovitz, maintains that Syed was certified to use that mask while wearing his beard.
U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel ordered the NYPD to reinstate Syed’s pay and benefits until July 8th, when another judge will rule on the lawsuit. According to the NY Daily News, Castel said Syed’s lawsuit will likely succeed.
“I am very relieved at the outcome, very happy with the judge’s decision,” Syed said after the hearing. “I think it was the right decision.”