NYPD officer (file)
NYPD officer (file)AFP file

Last Friday a New York federal court ruled that the New York Police Department's actions in firing Fishel Litzman, a Hasidic-religious recruit, over the length of his beard constitute religious discrimination. The ruling has led to expectations that Litzman will be reinstated.

In January 2012 Litzman began training at the police academy after scoring 97.6% on his entrance exam. He told CNN that he was in the top 1% of his classes and was "highly regarded" by his peers.

Just a month before graduating Litzman was fired. According to Litzman, the reason for his being let off was his refusal on religious grounds not to trim his beard to 1 millimeter as per department standards.

In firing Litzman the NYPD ostensibly argued that his beard length would prevent him from wearing a gas mask.

Federal Judge Harold Baer, while acknowledging the NYPD's concerns, noted that the NYPD could not provide documentation proving the 1 millimeter restriction to be an official rule, according to NY Daily News.

Following the ruling Litzman said “I want people to know that you can follow your dreams and never have to compromise your religion."

The next step will be to ask the NYPD to reinstate Litzman.

Litzman's lawyer, Nathan Lewin, expressed his intentions to do so, adding "we hope this is the beginning of the end of the (NYPD’s) refusal to grant full religious accommodations to applicants who may not, for religious reasons, trim their beards."

In response the NYPD said it is reviewing the judge's decision while "respectfully disagreeing."

The case follows another New York anti-Semitism lawsuit, in which three Jewish families sued their school district over "rampant anti-Semitism".