Department of Justice Building, Washington
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March 6, 2014 2:21 AM EST

Telling an state employee to trim their beard is not okay, according to a civil rights lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice this week.

On Wednesday, the department set its sights on the School District of Philadelphia for penalizing school law enforcement officer Siddiq Abu-Bakr for growing his beard longer than the regulated length, according to

The case is rooted in the district’s implementation of a grooming policy in 2010, stipulating that police officers and security guards employed by the school may not have facial hair longer than a quarter of an inch.

Abu-Bakr reportedly approached school officials and asked for an exemption from the rule due to his practice of Islam; however, the employee was hit with a written reprimand and warned of further disciplinary action if he didn’t follow the policy.

According to the suit filed by the agency this week, Justice Department officials are asking that the school institute a new policy that does not discriminate against their employees religious beliefs. The School District of Philadelphia has yet to respond officially to the allegations.


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