Judge: Philly PD Can Bar Officer From Wearing Muslim Head Scarf

Patrick Walters, AP, June 13, 2007

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Kimberlie Webb, 44, who has been on the force more than 10 years, filed a discrimination lawsuit in October 2005 after the department said she could not wear a khimar at work because the religious symbol violated uniform regulations.

U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III on Tuesday sided with the city and dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that the police department did not discriminate or retaliate against Webb.

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In February 2003, Webb told her supervisor she that her religion required her to wear the scarf, which covered her hair, forehead, neck, shoulders, and chest. When her request was denied, she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

While that complaint was pending, she decided to challenge the policy. She showed up wearing the khimar and was sent home several times. She was suspended without pay for 13 days in March 2004.

Her challenge came shortly after Commissioner Sylvester Johnson amended department policy to allow men to wear short beards for health or religious reasons.

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Wearing a khimar would hurt the department’s nonsectarian image, Diaz said. “We want people to be comfortable that the police department has no sectarian interests,” he said.

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