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Maryland Settles Suit Over Guard Wearing Dreadlocks

On 05-24-04, Maryland settled a suit brought by a prison guard who was disciplined for failing to cut his dreadlocks.

Jonathan Booth was a 35-year old, married, black Maryland prison guard when he was ordered to cut his dreadlocks. Booth, who is Rastafarian and wears dreadlocks for religious reasons, refused. Defendants began a series of progressive disciplinary actions against Booth which included denial of promotion. Booth filed a suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Title VII, alleging violation of his civil rights and seeking non-monetary damages, wage loss and attorney fees. Defendants claimed they sought uniformity in the appearance of guards for security reasons. The district court dismissed the suit. Booth appealed.

The court of appeals reversed the dismissal. Defendants then sought to settle the suit. In the settlement, Booth received a promotion, a transfer to another facility, removal of disciplinary evidence from his personnel file, permission to wear his dreadlocks and an undisclosed amount of attorney fees. Booth was represented by Baltimore attorney John B. Stolarz. See: Booth v. Maryland, No. 1:02-CV-160-JFM (U.S.D.C.-D. Maryland-Baltimore 2004).

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Related legal case

Booth v. Maryland