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

441 4th Street, NW, Suite 719
Washington, DC 20001
202-724-8109 fax

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.


Jim Graham

Cc: Bob Summersgill

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