Legal Analysts

Monday, June 21, 2021

Second Circuit Dismisses Discrimination Lawsuit by African American Firefighters Seeking an Accommodation to Grow Facial Hair

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit of New York recently dismissed a lawsuit filed by four African American firefighters, pursuant to the American with Disabilities Act, claiming that the FDNY discriminated against them by denying their request for a reasonable accommodation to grow facial hair.

In Bey et al. v. City of New York et al., the four African American firefighters suffered from pseudofolliculitis barbae ("PFB"), a skin condition most commonly affecting African American males, which causes skin irritation after shaving (The lower court previously dismissed the plaintiffs race discrimination claims). The Second Circuit ruled that the FDNY did not discriminate against the firefighters because they were abiding by a binding safety regulation requiring firefighters to be clean shaven in areas where a respirator seals against the skin on their faces. The Court further stated that any challenge to this regulation should be directed to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), not their employer. 

Do you agree with the decision?