Not always, it seems. A rabbi has recently won his lawsuit to be able to serve as an Army chaplain AND keep his beard, in accordance with his faith. When he first applied, Rabbi Menachem Stern was accepted into the chaplaincy, but his acceptance was rescinded when he indicated he would not shave his beard. The Army, as part of its dress code, has a prohibition on beards. Rabbi Stern wrote, "By not trimming my beard, I represent the unadulterated view of the holy Torah, the way we believe a person should live."
On November 22nd, both sides reached an agreement and Rabbi Stern will be permitted to serve. This is apparently only the second time that the Army has made an exception to allow a bearded rabbi to serve, the previous exception being granted over 30 years ago.
Employers should carefully review requests for accommodation and give thoughtful consideration to how the request will impact the company and its business. As part of our ongoing employee relations guidance, HR Matters can help you evaluate these requests.