Seattle-area Muslim man sues former employer over firing because he refused to shave beard

SEATTLE — A Seattle-area Muslim man is suing his former employer, claiming he was fired as a security guard for refusing to shave the beard he wears for religious reasons.

Abdulkadir Omar, 22, filed his federal lawsuit July 15 in Seattle against Sacramento-based American Patriot Security, seeking back pay and unspecified damages for emotional pain and loss of enjoyment of life, among other reasons.

According to the lawsuit, Omar was hired by a local manager of the security company in May 2009 and earned $9 an hour guarding a FedEx warehouse in Kent, Wash. He said he started the same day he was hired, and was not told about the clean-shaven policy.

In November 2009, a supervisor from headquarters told him he had to shave his beard because of company policy. Omar responded that his beard is part of his religious beliefs and refused. He was suspended, and then fired the following spring, the lawsuit said.