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Verdicts & Settlements

New York City Settles Hijab Lawsuit for $17.5m

— April 5, 2024

The New York Police Department will pay $17.5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging that it violated the civil rights of Muslim women, who were told to remove religious head coverings for arrest and booking photographs.

New York City has agreed to pay $17.5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of two Muslim women who claim that police officers violated by demanding that they remove their hijabs for arrest and booking photographs.

According to The Guardian, the tentative settlement will provide compensation to men and women who were forced to remove religious attire when being photographed at New York City jails and police stations.

The agreement, if approved, will provide about $13.1 million in compensation to an estimated 3,600 class members. Eligible class members will each receive anywhere between $7.824 and $13,125.

A police officer wearing a body camera. Image via Wikimedia Commons/user:Ryan Johnson. (CCA-BY-2.0).

The lawsuit, adds The New York Times, was originally filed on behalf of plaintiffs Jamilla Clark and Arwa Aziz in 2018. Both Clark and Aziz are Muslim, and said that being forced to remove their hijabs made them feel “violated.”

“When they forced me to take off my hijab, I felt as if I were naked,” Clark said in a statement. “I’m not sure if words can capture how exposed and violated I felt.”

“I’m so proud today to have played a part in getting justice for thousands of New Yorkers,” she said.

After the lawsuit was filed in 2020, the New York City Police Department announced that it would amend its procedures to allow persons to wear religious head coverings in photographs, provided that such coverings do not obstruct their faces.

A spokesperson for the city’s Law Department has since said that the settlement has “resulted in a positive reform for the N.Y.P.D.’

“The agreement carefully balances the department’s respect for firmly-held religious beliefs with the important law enforcement need to take arrest photos,” said Law Department spokesperson Nicholas Paolucci. “This resolution was in the best interest of all parties.”


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