The City of New York has agreed to pay a total of $180,000 to three Muslim females who were required to remove their hijabs for mug shots after being arrested. All of the women filed cases in Brooklyn federal court. The three lawsuits have now prompted implementation of NYPD policies on taking mug shots of arrestees who are wearing religious head coverings. Prior to 2015, there were no uniform NYPD policies on mug shot arrests of people wearing religious coverings over their heads. The initial 2015 policies were updated in 2017.
One of the women was a high school student in 2012 when she was arrested, but the criminal case against her was later dismissed. At the police station, she was told to take off her hijab for her mug shot, and she refused. She was then taken to a private room where her photo was taken by a female police officer. It was the mug shot issue that brought her civil rights lawsuit.
When the same woman was transferred to central booking, police wanted another mug shot. She was told that no female officers were available for that purpose, and it couldn’t be taken elsewhere. A male officer took her photo on a stationary booking room camera. The woman claimed that she felt “exposed, violated and distraught” without her hijab in the presence of male officers and arrestees.
According to the New York Times, another woman was asked to remove her hijab at central booking, but she refused as she purportedly was only allowed to do so in the presence of men who are family members. The third woman asked for a female officer to take her mug shot in private, but her lawsuit alleges that police refused.
The two other hijab cases were filed in 2015 and 2016. All three of the women settled their cases at $60,000 apiece. The three cases operate as examples of how law enforcement agencies and airport security personnel have been required to change policies in order to satisfy religious requirements.