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View Full Version : Beard/Muslim Discrimination In Sheriff's Office. Calling All Usual Suspects.



Spade: The Real Snake
4th June 09, 05:00 PM
There is currently a situation in Phoenix which has a Muslim Prison Worker demoted to desk duty and his pay reduced accordingly when Sheriff Joe Arpaio determined the worker couldn't properly wear a breathing aparatus, necessary in case of fire or riot gas deployment, because of his muslim beard. The man took the case to the ACLU.


From The Phoenix New Times:

http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2009/05/muslim_claims_discrimination_b.php
and
http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2009/05/sheriffs_office_denies_discrim.php
Muslim Worker Not Discriminated Against, Says Maricopa County


Sheriff's Office; OSHA Says Facial Hair and Masks Don't Mix

http://www.acluaz.org/client_photos/Sinan.jpg
The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office denies that a Muslim detention officer was discriminated against because of his beard, citing Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules that require a clean shave with face masks.

The office's response runs counter to what is claimed in the lawsuit filed today by Bosnian immigrant Sinan Fazlovic (with the help of the ACLU). The lawsuit states:

The primary occupational safety agency in the country ("OSHA"), opined in 1998 that persons with beards could meet the standards for wearing a secure SCBA or equivalent device and work under smoke and fire conditions.

We called the state OSHA office to get verification of this. But Bruce Hanna, a state industrial hygienist, had the opposite opinion: "You're not supposed to have any facial hair" when wearing a self-contained breathing apparatus mask, he said.


Here's the full statement about the ACLU lawsuit from MCSO:
This lawsuit erroneously accuses the Maricopa Sheriff's Office of religious discrimination.


The lawsuit fails to acknowledge our responsibility to comply with state-adopted federal OSHA regulations governing the type of facemasks authorized for use in jail emergency situations where life and health for officers and inmates are at risk.
This Sheriff's Office is committed to providing a safe environment for employees and inmates. We comply with Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health as it sets the standards for the safe use of this equipment as it pertains to facial hair and its potential to compromise the effectiveness of safety equipment.

Gerard Sheridan
Chief of Custody
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

Now, it's possible that Fazlovic's other claims may be valid, such as the way he was treated by the sheriff's office. But the issue of the face mask is not really in question, says Hanna. He pointed us to an OSHA directive (http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_id=12716&p_table=standards) which states facial hair should not come "between the sealing surface of the facepiece and the face..."


In fact, he says, the state OSHA worked with the sheriff's office recently in testing two other Muslim workers at the jail who wanted to keep their beards. The two passed a seal test only after trimming their beards every closely, Hanna says.


The Phoenix Fire Department also mandates clean-shaven faces in positions that require occasional use of a breathing mask, says the department's spokesman, Deputy Chief Frank Salomon.


"We do not allow anybody with a beard to work in operations," Salomon tells us. "The hair will bust that seal."


Skin and a light layer of sweat is needed to get a tight seal on the masks, which prevent toxic gases from being inhaled by firefighters. Safety is more important than style, and even handlebar moustaches and thick sideburns are verboten, he says.


If the need for a beard was for religious -- rather than simply personal -- purposes, the department's human resources department would get involved, Salomon says.


The problem would likely be handled on a case-by-case basis, he says.
With religious freedom at stake, nothing is -- shall we say -- clear cut.
In a 2005 case (http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/news.aspx?id=15835) of a Muslim firefighter that was also litigated by the ALCU, a judge ruled that a Pennsylvania fire department had the right to prohibit facial hair.


However, just this past March, a federal appeals court ruled in favor (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/rawfisher/2009/03/dcfirestorm_over_beards_and_re.html) of Muslim firefighters from Washington D.C. who wanted to grow beards.


If former jail guard Fazlovic gets lucky, he may end up with a favorable court decision, too -- but it may take awhile. The D.C. firefighters began their legal battle in 2001.

Shawarma
4th June 09, 05:05 PM
Sooo, CAN you actually wear a mask with a beard?

Reminds me of an Indian/British humour show I saw once in which an Indian nationalist called the fire department.

"Hello, my apartment is on fire, please send the Sikh fire brigade."
"Uh, we do not actually have a Sikh fire briga..."
"AHA! DISCRIMINATION! Tell me why, bigot, you do not have a Sikh fire brigade!"
"Because their beards and turbans would catch fire, you daft pillock."

Was funnier the way I remember it.

HappyOldGuy
4th June 09, 05:07 PM
I would tend to have some sypmathy for the county...

If Sheriff Joe Arpaio weren't involved. But fuck him. He just does this shit to get his name in the paper.

Shawarma
4th June 09, 05:08 PM
The guard is wrong anyway. Never did Mohammed say you had to have a bigass beard to be a good Muslim.

Spade: The Real Snake
4th June 09, 05:12 PM
I would tend to have some sypmathy for the county...
To some degree, yeah. But the minute they cut his pay, they made a vast error.


If Sheriff Joe Arpaio weren't involved. But fuck him. He just does this shit to get his name in the paper.

True, he does, but he gets by on feeding the inmates for like seventeen cents a day of something by giving them gruel, green bologna or some sort of loaf (http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2009/02/dmx_assaults_prison_guard_over.php).

Kein Haar
4th June 09, 05:27 PM
Oh, is that the sheriff who malnourishes the inmates?

Nice fellow.

But you don't need emergency workers themselves being victims [needlessly] in case of hazmat situations.

So....

Kinda like that fat dude who was pointing his pistol every-which-way upon getting himself to a standing position.

Wadda ya gonna do?

Spade: The Real Snake
4th June 09, 05:30 PM
Oh, is that the sheriff who malnourishes the inmates?

He gives them the recommended daily allotment of calories and nutrition.

It just isn't pleasing.

Harpy
4th June 09, 07:21 PM
I lol'd.

I'd hope that when the bearded one was put on desk duty that Human Resources and an Occupational Health & Safety officer advised him of the reason. Other than that, the lawsuit is ridiculous.

danno
4th June 09, 07:31 PM
Kinda like that fat dude who was pointing his pistol every-which-way upon getting himself to a standing position.

Wadda ya gonna do?

you bastard. i suppose you'd also support discrimination against plus-size muslims?

http://images.tribe.net/tribe/upload/photo/51e/46b/51e46b5b-d7a1-4d15-9ea1-5164559e3aae

han090
4th June 09, 08:05 PM
He gives them the recommended daily allotment of calories and nutrition.

It just isn't pleasing.Well, it is meant to be prison after all. It's supposed to be a punishement/deterrent.

socratic
4th June 09, 09:10 PM
"Dude, you'll die if you don't shave your beard an emergency occurs."

"Oh, okay."

That's how it should have been handled. If he cited religious reasons they probably shouldn't have docked his pay, but I guess in a lot of ways their hands were tied in that they could only put him somewhere were his beard wouldn't cause risks.

WarPhalange
5th June 09, 12:22 AM
But socratic! I have to run around with my cock and balls hanging out due to religious reasons! By saying I can't be a prison guard just because of that, you are discriminating against my religion!

I also have to walk around bent over with my naked ass sticking out whenever I am in the presents of shower heads.

socratic
5th June 09, 08:42 AM
But socratic! I have to run around with my cock and balls hanging out due to religious reasons! By saying I can't be a prison guard just because of that, you are discriminating against my religion!

I also have to walk around bent over with my naked ass sticking out whenever I am in the presents of shower heads.

There's a point at which practical considerations [a person's safety and the safety of their company/team/unit] trump religious considerations. It's sucky but it's true.

KO'd N DOA
5th June 09, 10:19 AM
Whatever I want to benifit myself and my own personal 'pursuit of happiness' is a triumph over any and all religious and cultural beliefs.

Spade: The Real Snake
5th June 09, 10:43 AM
But socratic! I have to run around with my cock and balls hanging out due to religious reasons! By saying I can't be a prison guard just because of that, you are discriminating against my religion!

I also have to walk around bent over with my naked ass sticking out whenever I am in the presents of shower heads.

You'll be a "big hit!" in Tent City.

Gbemi
5th June 09, 01:35 PM
Just searched on the OSHA website. the 'no facial hair' seems to have been a rule for a long time. There is a statement on there saying, even if the person understands that their facial hair will cause their respirators to work improperly, they cannot sign a waiver. Facial hair must be removed.
Though I would normally take the side of freedom of religion, I think the ACLU made a mistake in approaching it this way.

My questions are, 'why was his beard not an issue during training?' Why was he even hired with the beard? Were reasonable steps taken to inform this guy of the OSHA regulations before he completed his training and chose his career path? If he was aware of them, did he ignore them hoping for an exception based on religion?

HappyOldGuy
5th June 09, 01:43 PM
From the article: "Soon after, in September of 2005, the sheriff's office became a no-grow zone -- all employees were suddenly banned from sporting facial hair."

So the policy is ex post facto. IOW, I hope he makes a mint off the lawsuit.

Zendetta
5th June 09, 01:46 PM
Cops without mustaches? What's next, dogs and cats having high tea together?

Gbemi
5th June 09, 02:24 PM
From the article: "Soon after, in September of 2005, the sheriff's office became a no-grow zone -- all employees were suddenly banned from sporting facial hair."

So the policy is ex post facto. IOW, I hope he makes a mint off the lawsuit.

Doh!!!
Should have read the article first.... :redface2:

Now that attention has been brought to the occupation and facial hair, if he wins, will OSHA be forced to make an ammendment? Or will prison guards in Arizona all be forced to be clean shaven going forward? How does that work? Does this case have the potential to set a wide precedent?

Ajamil
5th June 09, 02:42 PM
Gotta go with the county on this one. Why not get all his coworkers and him in a room, have them put masks on, and saturate the place with tear gas until he can't beg for them to stop anymore because he's vomiting too much? And then put him in the desk because he failed to pass safety criteria.

HappyOldGuy
5th June 09, 03:02 PM
Gotta go with the county on this one. Why not get all his coworkers and him in a room, have them put masks on, and saturate the place with tear gas until he can't beg for them to stop anymore because he's vomiting too much? And then put him in the desk because he failed to pass safety criteria.

I don't think anyone is disagreeing that much with that side of it. Although apparently there are types of masks that don't require a tight seal and use positive pressure to keep the gas out.

But the fact that people were allowed to have facial hair until they hired this guy means that however legit the safety arguments are, they aren't why he got demoted.

Gbemi
5th June 09, 03:33 PM
Beards are all the rage in the LEO/Military news apparently.

2 Sikhs charged the US Army of discrimination for making them shave their beards

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103119167&ft=1&f=1001

Unlike the OP, the Army has always upheld the rule and is not just picking on Sikhs.

Spade: The Real Snake
5th June 09, 03:47 PM
I don't think anyone is disagreeing that much with that side of it. Although apparently there are types of masks that don't require a tight seal and use positive pressure to keep the gas out.

But the fact that people were allowed to have facial hair until they hired this guy means that however legit the safety arguments are, they aren't why he got demoted.

The "reasonable accommodation" clause?

HappyOldGuy
5th June 09, 03:53 PM
The "reasonable accommodation" clause?

I'm not sure what you mean? That's usually an ADA thing.

Zendetta
5th June 09, 04:11 PM
Well, they ARE handicapped by Religion

Spade: The Real Snake
5th June 09, 04:26 PM
I'm not sure what you mean? That's usually an ADA thing.

From the standpoint that the improper usage of the mask for health and safety purposes would effect his health, it would potentially fall under the USDOL jurisdiction.

If the ACLU can prove a similar gas mask would work with his beard and it would fall in the similar price range (or he could make up the difference or one could be donated) then this would be considered a reasonable accomodation.

HappyOldGuy
5th June 09, 04:30 PM
I don't think there is a reasonable accomodation standard around religious issues though. Although we're getting deep into notalawyer country.

Spade: The Real Snake
5th June 09, 04:37 PM
I don't think there is a reasonable accomodation standard around religious issues though.
As stated by you, the "no facial hair" policy was enacted post-hiring. It was stated in the article, the beard wasn't an issue until Sheriff Arpaio laid eyes upon it and the OSHA/Respirator card was laid upon the table.
I know, for my business, any employee who may need to wear a respirator, is required to receive a respirator fitness medical evaluation and we have quarterly fitness checks.
Now, if he failed, fine. It is done with. But, if there is such a respirator, and it falls within the budgeted amount, he should retain his job, retain his beard and be issued this respirator.

If he cannot, then he should be transferred to a different position, with equal pay and retain his beard, as he would be "grandfathered" in.



Although we're getting deep into notalawyer country.
It's OK, I just watched "House, MD"

HappyOldGuy
5th June 09, 04:41 PM
Oh I totally agree with you that's what they should have done (assuming that the respirator works, is reasonably similar in price, etc). I'm just not positive what happens when the lawyers get involved, i.e. whether they had to do it.

Spade: The Real Snake
5th June 09, 04:47 PM
Oh I totally agree with you that's what they should have done (assuming that the respirator works, is reasonably similar in price, etc). I'm just not positive what happens when the lawyers get involved, i.e. whether they had to do it.
Since we are a "Right To Work" state, many employers get.....well.....brassy.

Antifa
5th June 09, 07:44 PM
I would tend to have some sypmathy for the county...

If Sheriff Joe Arpaio weren't involved. But fuck him. He just does this shit to get his name in the paper.


^^^^^^^^
This is t3h c0rr3ct