A Hasidic New York Police Department recruit will head to court to fight for his job after being fired for refusing to trim his beard based on religious grounds.
Fishel Litzman will appear in Manhattan federal court on Thursday. His lawyer, Nathan Lewin, has a good deal of experience in religious rights cases.
“He very much so wants to get his job back,” Lewin said. “It’s always been his ambition to be a New York City police officer. He still has a very, very strong wish to serve as a New York City police officer.”
Litzman, 39, was fired last June — a month before he was supposed to graduate. According to the NYPD, he had ignored warnings about trimming his beard to within 1 millimeter in length.
As a Hasidic Jew, Litzman’s beliefs do not allow him to trim or cut his facial hair in any way, which was a situation he said the NYPD was aware of when he entered the academy, The New York Daily News reported.
City Assistant Corporation Counsel Keri Reid McNally said that was not the case and that Litzman was warned before entering the academy that the facial hair limit would be enforced. The city requires beards to be shaved in order for officers to be able to wear gas masks during counterterrorism drills.