The agency that runs New York's prisons responded to a religious discrimination lawsuit Thursday by saying it has modified a rule barring uniformed officers from wearing visible symbols of their faith on the job.
The U.S. Department of Justice's civil rights division sued New York's Department of Correctional Services on Thursday, seeking an overhaul of its grooming regulations for uniformed guards.
The suit was filed in Manhattan on behalf of Abdus Samad N. Haqq, a correction officer from Brooklyn who was ordered to stop wearing a kufi to his job at a halfway house in 2005. A kufi is a knitted skullcap that carries religious significance for many Muslim men.
The New York Civil Liberties Union brought an initial lawsuit on Haqq's behalf in October, saying the rule violated his religious rights.
In its companion suit, the Department of Justice said the Department of Correctional Services had violated a federal law requiring employers to reasonably accommodate the reasonable religious practices of their workers.
"Americans are not required to abandon their religious beliefs when they report for work," said Assistant Attorney General Wan J. Kim in a statement announcing the lawsuit. [Link]
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