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Fitzpatrick v. City of Atlanta
United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
2 F.3d 1112 (1993)
The City of Atlanta (city) (defendant) had a rule (the no-beard rule) requiring all firefighters to fully shave their faces. Occupational safety and health experts stated that the respirator masks used by firefighters should not be worn with facial hair. Facial hair prevented the forming of a proper seal between the respirator mask and the wearer’s face, thereby risking exposing the wearer to contaminants. Several Black firefighters (the firefighters) (plaintiffs) employed by the city suffered from pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB), which caused their faces to become infected if they shaved. PFB disproportionately afflicted Black men. The firefighters brought suit, contending that the no-beard rule had a disparate impact on Blacks in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). The firefighters proposed an alternative rule that would require shaving only the portion of the face where the respirator mask’s seal would come into contact with the skin. But the firefighters did not cite any evidence indicating that partial shaving would be a safe alternative. Further, partial shaving would pose the same PFB problems as full-face shaving. The district court granted summary judgment for the city. The firefighters appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Anderson, J.)
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