A Muslim NYPD officer suspended for refusing to shave off his beard has been reinstated and the department has agreed to rethink its no-beard policy, the officer’s lawyers said Thursday night.
Masood Syed, who said his beard was required by his religious beliefs, filed suit in Manhattan federal court last week and won a restraining order requiring the NYPD to provide pay and benefits until a fuller hearing on the suspension.
“I’m excited to be back at work,” Syed said in a statement issued by his lawyers. “It seems like the Department has taken the crucial first step in addressing an important and growing concern of officers of many different faiths.”
Syed, a 10-year NYPD veteran working in the administrative trial division, said in the suit he had his 1⁄2- to 1-inch beard for years before he was ordered to trim it to 1 millimeter, in accordance with the department’s “religious accommodation” policy.
U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel had ordered a July 8 hearing on a preliminary injunction.
Joshua Moskovitz, one of Syed’s lawyers, lauded the reversal of course.
“What makes New York City unique are the many cultures and religions represented here,” he said. “By embracing those differences and having officers of all walks of life in positions at every level of the department, the NYPD will be a better and more effective police department.”
In a letter to the court, the city law department said that in addition to restoring Syed to full duty it would undertake a 120-day review of its personal appearance rules in the Patrol Guide and the 1-millimeter standard for religious claims.
Syed will face no adverse action while that review is ongoing, the letter said.
“The parties are continuing their discussions regarding all aspects of this matter and working toward a resolution,” said Nick Paolucci, a Law Department spokesman.
The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment.