Philly schools accused of religious beard bias

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Department of Justice has accused the Philadelphia school district in a federal lawsuit of discriminating against an employee who said he couldn't trim his beard for religious reasons.

The complaint was filed Wednesday in Pennsylvania. It alleges the district in 2010 instituted a grooming policy preventing school police officers from having beards longer than a quarter of an inch long and discriminated against Siddiq Abu-Bakr by failing to accommodate his religious beliefs.

The lawsuit says the longtime school police officer is a member of the Islamic faith, which requires him not to cut his beard. It says the school district failed to consider his request for reasonable accommodation and he was reprimanded.

The government wants monetary damages for him and new grooming policies from the district.

A district spokesman hasn't returned a cellphone message seeking comment.

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