Houston to Shell Out $150,000 to Defend Police Beard Ban

The Houston City Council has unanimously authorized spending up to $150,000 to defend the city in a lawsuit challenging the police department's ban on beards.

Council members spent more than an hour last night discussing the policy and questioning whether the police department's no-facial hair policy discriminates against men who cannot shave on medical or religious grounds.

Four police officers filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in November claiming the facial hair policy is discriminatory. The officers say the prohibition on beards and goatees is unfair for men with pseudofolliculitis barbae, a skin condition that reacts negatively to shaving. The condition primarily affects black men and can cause severe irritation, rashes and ingrown hair.

The lawsuit says the men were reassigned to plain-clothes duty because of their facial hair.