The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has jumped on the anti-Arpaio bandwagon. The far-left group has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) The claim? The MCSO discriminated against a former detention officer of the Muslim faith.
ACLU lawyers filed the suit in U.S. District Court on behalf of plaintiff Sinan Fazlovic, 34, who charges that Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office made him choose between keeping his facial hair or keeping his job. Fazlovic alleges he made repeated requests for religious accommodation.
MCSO officials said the agency was simply observing state safety regulations. “The Sheriff’s Office is committed to providing a safe environment for employees and inmates,” said Gerard Sheridan, MCSO chief of custody. “We comply with Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health . . . as it pertains to facial hair and its potential to compromise the effectiveness of safety equipment.”
The beard would impede Fazlovic’s ability to perform his duties since he couldn’t properly wear a special breathing mask necessary during emergencies. Instead, Fazlovic requested being fitted for a special mask that would accommodate facial hair.
Fazlovic, a Bosnian immigrant, shaved his beard for about a year before re-growing his facial hair and requesting a change in position. MCSO then reassigned Fazlovic to a clerical position with lesser pay. He resigned in 2008.
Fazlovic seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.