Religion is a Valid Reason for a Beard

July 20, 2008

Author: Staff Writer

Source: The Chicago Sun-Times,CST-EDT-edit20a.article

Should a man be forced to shave his beard for work if it violates his religious beliefs?

Abal Zaidi, who is Muslim, refused to shave and now alleges that's why he lost his job as a Kane County correctional officer in Geneva. Last week, he sued the Kane County Sheriff's Department, where he worked from July to December 2006.

Zaidi contends that as soon as the new sheriff, Pat Perez, came on board in December 2006, he mandated that all employees must be clean-shaven. Zaidi refused, explaining that his beard is "an expression of his Muslim practice and belief."

A supervisor asked Zaidi for proof he was Muslim, he claims, but before he could do so he was told to quit or be fired.

These are only Zaidi's allegations. A court will decide where the truth lies.

But we know this even now: Wearing a beard for religious reasons should be allowed on the job, just as the law requires that employers allow hijabs, headscarfs, turbans and yarmulkes. This is protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.