Jacksonville, Florida. A group of firefighters is suing the city of Jacksonville.
They’re officially fighting a rule that requires them to completely shave their facial hair, saying the standard is unreasonable.
It looks like this is a fight that’s been brewing for a while. In 2016, Eight firefighters have been placed on office service Because of their beards. The city said beards are in conflict with OSHA regulations because mustaches interfere with oxygen masks, such as those used by firefighters when fighting fires.
Now, 31 Black Jacksonville firefighters have filed a federal discrimination lawsuit, centering around a case called Pseudofolliculitis. It occurs when facial skin becomes inflamed or facial hair grows.
The lawsuit alleges that firefighters have to choose between skin problems and pain or keep their careers on fire.
“It was devastating because they had to choose between their safety, their health and their career – something they all had in common. They want to be firefighters and paramedics who want to help people,” said attorney Anthony Hall, who represents the firefighters.
In 2016, the city stopped allowing firefighters to exempt if they cut their hair too closely.
Firefighters argue that the change is unnecessary, illegal, and does not support the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Randy Wise, president of the Jacksonville Firefighters Association, sent a statement Wednesday:
“The Jacksonville Firefighters Association respects a member’s right to bring their complaints to a court of law so that their complaints can be heard.”
Firefighters are demanding a change of policy, losing their salaries if they are re-hired and compensating them for emotional pain and suffering.
A city spokesman said he could not comment on an ongoing lawsuit.
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