Black Firefighters Sue Over Jacksonville Policy Requiring Them To Be Cleanshaven

Nov 25, 2020

Thirty Black Jacksonville firefighters are suing the city over its requirement to be cleanshaven, saying unreasonable standards are making them choose between painful skin problems and losing their careers.

WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union reports the firefighters, all men, have pseudofolliculitis barbae, a condition where curly hair becomes ingrown or skin becomes inflamed and sometimes scarred, a lawsuit filed this week in federal court says.

The condition, often described as "razor bumps," can appear in up to 60 percent of African American men, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology.

The city previously let firefighters with that condition have closely trimmed hair as an accommodation under the Americans With Disabilities Act, provided that it didn’t affect the fit of a mask for a breathing apparatus.

But the city reversed course in 2016, with city lawyers saying state law spelled out a safety standard and “that ADA accommodations were afforded in violation of such standard,” the Times-Union reported then.

Read the rest of this story at Jacksonville.com.