Three medics from the Baltimore Orthodox community have been barred from riding on calls by the Pikesville Volunteer Fire Company because their beards, which are worn for religious purposes, may prevent them from donning protective masks.
The medics see this measure as religious discrimination.
This occurrence, merely one in a string of similar examples in recent years, demonstrates the palpable need to pass the Workplace Religious Freedom Act (WRFA), for which the Orthodox Union has advocated in the past. WRFA would require employers to reasonably accommodate the religious practices of employees insofar as doing so did not impose an undue hardship upon the employer. This would allow employees to take time off for religious holiday observance and wear religious garb – including facial hair – to work. Despite its introduction in previous Congresses, the legislation has yet to be introduced in the 111th Congress.
The introduction of this legislation is a matter of religious liberty for Americans of all faiths.