Webb v. City of Philadelphia - Amicus Brief

January 9, 2008

On January 9, 2008 the ACLU Women's Rights Project, Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, and the ACLU of Pennsylvania filed an amicus brief in a case concerning the right of a Muslim woman to cover her hair while working as a police officer. The brief documents a wide range of police, public safety, and military organizations across the country and around the world that recognize that they may maintain the uniformity of appearance necessary to function effectively while permitting individual officers to wear clothing and to deviate from grooming regulations when the officers do so as part of a religious practice. Disappointingly, on April 7, 2009, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the District Court’s ruling upholding the Police Department’s assertion that it could not reasonably accommodate Officer Webb’s desire to wear her hijab. The Department had argued that allowing hijab would compromise its perception of impartiality. The court focused on the fact that Officer Webb had not rebutted the Department’s testimony on this point at the trial court level, and it refused to consider the materials that the ACLU, representing amici, had submitted demonstrating that other police and military organizations around the world successfully accommodate religious dress in their uniforms.

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