A California man has enlisted help in order to bring legal action against the US Navy for discriminating against him by letting him wear a beard for religious reasons. Jonathan Berts, a member of the Navy since 2002, claims he was denied the opportunity to re-enlist as a result of the beard he wears for religious beliefs.
Berts is a Muslim and claims that the Navy’s denial to allow him to re-enlist without having to shave his beard amounts to discrimination. This isn’t the first issue where religious discrimination has come up in regard to military service either – Muslims, Jews and Sikhs have all filed lawsuits against various branches of the military for discrimination.
The fact that the Defense Department has re-evaluated their policy when it comes to facial hair is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t help the plaintiff in this case. Changes in the policy didn’t officially take effect until it was too late for this particular veteran to re-enlist.
The changes in policy could be viewed by the courts in multiple ways. If Berts’ legal team can present clear evidence that their client was discriminated against and use the change in policy to show that the branch of service was correcting an admitted wrong, the former Navy man could be in line for some form of settlement. That being said, the Defense Department isn’t your typical employer and will certainly pose a serious challenge in the courtroom.
A discrimination lawsuit against an employer, institution or individual can be tricky to navigate and certainly requires the assistance of an experienced lawyer. If you feel as though you have been discriminated against you need to seek legal help in order to get the best advice on how to properly pursue your claim. An experienced attorney can use the facts present to build the strongest possible case in an effort to ensure that justice is upheld and to help you get any damages you might be entitled to.
Religious discrimination is illegal and prohibited by both California and federal laws. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act makes it unlawful for any employer with over 5 employees to discriminate against an employee based on an unlawful reason, such as race, national origin, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, language, or any other protected reason. Individuals who succeed in bringing religious discrimination claims are entitled to back-pay, compensatory damages, and attorneys’ fees. Religious anti-discrimination laws also require employers to make “reasonable accommodation” for employees’ religious preferences, including different shifts/work-schedules.
AXIS Legal Counsel is an employment law firm representing clients in numerous kinds of lawsuits and disputes involving some of the nation’s largest employers. Whether it is sexual harassment, other kinds of harassment, discrimination, medical/disability discrimination, retaliation, hostile work environment, wage/hour, workplace bullying, or other claims, AXIS Legal Counsel is experienced in the field of employment and labor law and focused on providing high-quality legal service. AXIS’s managing attorney, Rabeh M. A. Soofi, is recognized as one of the “Top Women Lawyers in Southern California” by SuperLawyers Rising Stars, and is a Los Angeles Employment Attorney with experience representing numerous employees with a wide variety of employment claims.
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