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Firing of bearded Hasidic police recruit ruled religious discrimination

(JTA) — A Hasidic police recruit who said he was fired from the New York Police Department because he would not trim his beard was the victim of religious discrimination, a federal court ruled.

Fishel Litzman, 39, could be reinstated in the coming days, according to the New York Daily News. U.S. District Court Judge Harold Baer issued his decision on Friday.

Litzman had filed a civil rights lawsuit in June 2012 against the NYPD, the City of New York and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly to be reinstated to his job and for damages. He was a month away from graduating from the Police Academy when he was dismissed on June 7, 2012.

He reportedly received test scores of 99, 100 and 96 on Police Academy exams, but was cited constantly for failing to maintain his personal appearance. Litzman said it would violate his religious beliefs to trim his beard to the 1 millimeter length allowed by the NYPD.

Litzman’s attorney, Nathan Lewin, said he would file to have Litzman reinstated.

The Law Department of the NYPD told the Daily News, “We respectfully disagree with the court and are considering our options.”

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