Police department can prohibit religious dress

A police department can refuse to allow a female police officer to wear a traditional Muslim headscarf, a federal appeals court has decided. This didn’t amount to religious or sex discrimination.

The officer had asked to wear a headscarf that would cover her hair and the back of her neck, but the police department’s dress code didn’t contain a provision for religious attire. The court sided with the police department, saying it would be an “undue hardship” for the department to have to allow religious dress. It noted that the police commissioner had testified that it was vital for the department to promote the appearance of religious neutrality in dealing with the public and in working together cooperatively.