Muslim group sues over US Navy’s ‘beard discrimination’


A Muslim who served almost 10 years in the Navy and is still a member of the Navy Reserves, is suing the Navy because it does not allow beards.

According to, Jonathan Berts of Fairfield, Calif., is demanding the Navy grant him a religious exception to its no-beard policy, and claims in his lawsuit that he was denied a promotion because he requested the exception in the first place.

According to SFGate:

After his request for a religious accommodation was turned down, Berts, an African American Muslim who had enlisted in 2002, was denied a previously recommended promotion and was subjected to “a barrage of derogatory terms, anti-Islamic slurs, and inappropriate lines of questions about his religious beliefs and loyalty to the United States,” said the lawsuit, filed this week in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.

The supervisor who had rejected Berts’ promotion to first class petty officer called him names like “camel jockey” and “towel head,” his lawyers said. They said Berts, a barracks instructor who taught military history and physical education to recruits at the Great Lakes naval base in Illinois, was soon transferred to an “abandoned, roach-infested building” where he spent his days in isolation guarding piles of old office equipment.

The suit also claims he was denied re-enlistment because of the beard.

The Navy did not comment on the suit last week.

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