HomeSikh AmericansFeds sue California prison system over beards of Sikh guards

Feds sue California prison system over beards of Sikh guards

The federal government is suing the California prison system alleging it is not following its own policy to allow Sikhs and Muslim prison guards to keep their facial hair.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation forbids its officers from sporting beards, but KTXL reports it agreed last year to provide religious accommodations for Sikhs and Muslims who wear beards as an expression of their faith.

However, numerous discrimination complaints have been filed since saying the State has failed to enforce its own policy.

“Our district is one of the most diverse in the country, with communities of many different faiths practicing customs that are central to their beliefs,” U.S. Attorney Phil Talbert said in a statement to the Sacramento Bee. “The action brought today is an important use of the federal civil rights laws to protect this religious expression.”

Late Monday, the state provided a statement to the Los Angeles Times.

“CDCR is fully compliant with the law, and we are confident the court will agree.”

The state says it can only lift the ban if it doesn’t conflict with other laws. It says the beards prevent face masks to be worn tightly.

 “Tight-fitting respirator masks are legally required under workplace safety laws for certain functions in state prison operations,” spokeswoman Mary Xjimenez wrote.

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