Face mask
Face mask iStock

New York's Mount Sinai Hospital forced three Muslim employees to cut their beards to pass a test required to wear N95 safety masks during the coronavirus pandemic while not requiring any other employees to do the same to their beards, the New York Post reported.

The three maintenance workers filed a lawsuit against the hospital on Wednesday, alleging that they were discriminated against because other employees, "including Orthodox Jews, were able to maintain a beard and were not were not similarly required to pass an N-95 fit test.”

According to the lawsuit, vice president for labor relations and human resources for Mount Sinai Jeffrey Cohen forced the three to obtain a letter from a Muslim religious leader proving that their beards were essential to their religious beliefs.

“No explanation was given as to why the fit testing requirement was suddenly being enforced after almost a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and over six months after Mount Sinai Hospital System created a policy against allowing the use of the religious exemption for facial hair on the basis that it ‘obtained special dispensations from religious organizations,” the suit states.

The lawsuit alleges that the three suffered religious discrimination and were forced to accept different jobs at the hospital.. Two of them refused to accept the new positions and were fired.

The lawsuit seeks damages, the restoration of the original jobs, and the provision of protective gear that would accommodate their beards.

A Mount Sinai spokesperson said in response: “Our policies protect our healthcare workers and our patients, and we will vigorously defend ourselves in court.”