The Associated Press
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HOUSTON — The Houston City Council has unanimously authorized spending up to $150,000 to defend the city in a lawsuit challenging its ban on beards in the police department.
"The lawsuit is pending and we have to defend ourselves," Councilman Ron Green said. "But we're basically saying we want new police officers, but we don't want police officers with beards."
Four police officers filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in November claiming the policy is discriminatory. The officers say the prohibition on beards and goatees is unfair for men who suffer a skin condition that reacts negatively to shaving. The condition can cause severe irritation, rashes and ingrown hair.
The police department instituted the policy in 1993 so uniformed officers would look conservative and professional, according to a city memo.
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Officers said the policy unfairly affects their earning potential.