(JTA) — A Chasidic police recruit who said he was fired from the New York Police Department because he would not trim his beard has sued to get his job back.
Fishel Litzman, 38, filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit late last week against the New York Police Department, the City of New York, and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly to be reinstated to his job, and for damages.
Litzman, who was a month away from graduating from the Police Academy, said it would violate his religious beliefs to trim his beard to the 1 millimeter length allowed by the NYPD, the New York Daily News reported.
He told the Daily News that his dismissal papers did not give a reason for his dismissal on June 7. The newspaper reported that Litzman received test scores of 99, 100 and 96, but was cited constantly for failing to maintain his personal appearance.
He said in the suit that he would forgo damages if he could be reinstated to his position and allowed to make up his coursework, allowing him to graduate with his class next month.
Litzman is represented by attorney Nathan Lewin, who has won permission for observant Jews in the U.S. Army and Air Force to maintain their beards while serving.
The Police Academy has said that Litzman was aware of the rules for his beard when he started at the academy.