SW Legal studies in Business

Police Officer Does Not Have Right to Wear Religious Symbol on Uniform
Description Appeals court upheld dismissal of suit brought by a police officer who was fired for refusing to remove a small gold cross from his uniform. His contention that he had a First Amendment right to wear a symbol of his commitment to Christianity failed as the government has an interest in conveying neutrality on such personal beliefs.
Topic Constitutional Law
Key Words First Amendment; Freedom of Speech; Freedom of Religion; Dress Code
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Daniels, a police officer for Arlington, Texas, wore a small, gold cross pin on his shirt as a symbol of his Christianity. Department regulations stated that "no button, badge, medal, or similar symbol" would be worn on a uniform unless approved by the police chief. When Daniels continued to wear the pin after the chief told him he could not wear it on his uniform, Daniels was fired. Daniels sued, contending the no-pins policy was unconstitutional. The district court dismissed the suit; Daniels appealed.
Decision Affirmed. The dress code does not violate the officer's First Amendment rights. Daniels' communication of his personal religions views through the pin was not speech that addresses a legitimate public concern, and the city's interest in conveying neutrality on matters such as religion, outweighs the officer's interest in wearing the pin. While religious speech receives great protection in civilian life, it takes on a different cast in the context of a police uniform. There is also no grounds for a suit for discrimination based on religion under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Citation Daniels v. City of Arlington, Texas, 246 F.3d 500 (5th Cir., 2001)

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