Graham writes Fire Chief on grooming standards, Human Rights Act
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Graham writes Fire Chief on grooming standards, Human Rights Act

JIM GRAHAM
COUNCILMEMBER, WARD ONE
COUNCIL OF HE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
441 4th Street, NW, Suite 719
Washington, DC 20001
202-724-8181
202-724-8109 fax
jgraham@dccouncil.washington.dc.us

April 18, 2001

Ronnie Few, Fire Chief
Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services
Grimke School
1923 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Dear Chief Few:

It has come to my attention that you plan to initiate a rigid interpretation of the Department's grooming standards specifically as related to hair length. I do agree with you that public image is important as well as esprit de corps. However, I would ask that your reconsider your present plans.

Some years ago, the Council enacted a DC Human Rights law that specifically prohibits 'discrimination on the basis of personal appearance. The litigation period that led up to this law was indeed contiguous and a decisive victory for those supporting individual expressionism (rights). In addition, the Supreme Court has decided that hair standards not related to safety concerns are illegal. I have found no evidence that suggests that the Department has engaged in such an assessment to determine if safety would be compromised.

Absent this evidence, I strongly recommend that you reconsider your present course. It is my feeling that it will not survive a legal challenge as well as may undermine your success with the Department to date. I would be happy to discuss this matter with you further, at your convenience.

Sincerely,

Jim Graham

Cc: Bob Summersgill
JG/fg


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