Morteza Javadi, who says he is a Chasidic Jew (the name is Iranian, as in the Iranian pop singer Morteza Barjesteh) on Tuesday sued Frank Chalfont, owner of Chalfont & Associates, which runs several McDonald’s franchises in Florida, for refusing to hire him on account of his beard, the Miami Herald reported (H/T Larry Yudelson).
Javadi and his wife also self-identify as “Karaite-Samaritans” on their videos.
According to the lawsuit, submitted in Orlando federal court, Javadi applied online for a janitorial position at McDonald’s in Longwood, and the store manager, who interviewed him in person, said he had to shave off his beard in accordance with the store’s grooming policy, which, according to the lawsuit, says that “employees must be completely clean shaven.”
The plaintiff offered to wear a beard net, but the manager refused – the beard had to come off.
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed the suit on behalf of Javadi, claims that Chalfont & Associates’ anti-beard policy is an “unlawful employment practice” which discriminates against Javadi.
Much has been said about the halachic basis for the prohibition on shaving one’s beard being Leviticus 19:27: “Don’t round your hair at the temples or mar the edges of your beard.” But, of course, this is a reference to a complete removal of one’s facial hair, including the entire sidelocks.
We can learn from an exchange in Bava Metzia 84a that one of the greatest sages, Rabbi Yochanan, did not wear a beard. The sages, who count Rabbi Yochanan among the most beautiful men who ever lived, nevertheless do not include his name on a list of beautiful men such as our patriarch Jacob going back to Adam – because Rabbi Yochanan did not wear a beard.
Incidentally, our sages said (Nedarim 49b) that any labor brings honor to its laborer, which should be a sufficient answer to anyone who asks what’s a religious man doing looking for a job at McDonald’s.