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Muslim Man Fired for Not Shaving Beard

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on August 09, 2011 12:42 PM

A Muslim man was fired from his post as a security guard. The reason? He was fired over his beard.

Abdulkadir Omar, 22, was working for American Patriot Security in May 2009. Omar is from SeaTac, Washington. When he was hired, he had facial hair, but was never told he had to shave, the Seattle Times reports.

A few months after he was hired, Omar was told that he had to shave his beard. Omar, a Muslim, keeps his facial hair a certain way as part of his religious beliefs, according to the Seattle Times. Despite the fact that he informed his supervisor about his beliefs, Omar was fired.

And, now he is suing the company over his dismissal for violating the company's grooming policy for men.

Omar is seeking compensation for 65 hours of work that he said he was not paid for, as well as damages including emotional damages, reports the Seattle Times.

The security company may well have violated Omar's rights if the only reason for his dismissal  was his facial hair.

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers are prohibited from discriminating against individuals on the basis of their religion during the term of their employment.

Employers are required to reasonably accommodate an employee's religious practices unless they are an undue hardship on the employer. Examples of undue hardship can be something that is more than ordinary administrative costs, or if the accommodation infringes upon other employee's rights or benefits.

Is allowing Omar to keep his facial hair the way he needs for his religious beliefs "undue hardship?"

It seems fairly unlikely, and if he was fired over his beard, then American Patriot Security can probably be found liable for his wrongful termination. A Muslim man fired over his beard may have amounted to discrimination under Title VII if it was related to his religion.

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