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Results: Feds say California's facial hair ban for prison guards amounts to religious discrimination

Published on 03/29/2024
By: Tellwut
The federal government is asking a court to halt California’s enforcement of a rule requiring prison guards to be clean-shaven, saying it amounts to religious discrimination for Sikhs, Muslims and others who wear beards as an expression of their faith. The corrections department maintains its no-beard rule stems from the need for certain employees, including guards, to wear tight-fitting respirators, with state law requiring that facial hair not interfere with the use of such masks that were worn during the coronavirus pandemic. In an emailed statement to The Associated Press, the state agency defended its policy. "“Tight-fitting respirator masks are legally required under workplace safety laws for certain functions in state prison operations, as well as for the safety and protection of the incarcerated population and other staff. CDCR is fully compliant with the law, and we are confident the court will agree."