We represent Yvonne Allen, a devout Christian woman who covers her hair with a headscarf as part of her religious practice. In December 2015, Ms. Allen sought to renew her driver license at the Lee County driver license office, where officials demanded that she remove her head covering to be photographed. When Ms. Allen explained her religious beliefs, the County officials responded with a remarkable claim: They admitted that there was a religious accommodation available for head coverings, but contended that it applied only to Muslims. They also ridiculed Ms. Allen’s sincerely held religious beliefs, with the Chief Clerk informing her that she was herself a Christian and did not cover her head. Left with no choice if she wished to renew her license, Ms. Allen – with tears in her eyes and feeling sick to her stomach over the violation of her religious beliefs – removed her head covering.
We assert that the Lee County’s policy violates the Establishment Clause by favoring one religion over others, the Free Exercise Clause by discriminating invidiously among religions, the “no preference” clause of Alabama Const. Art. I, § 3 (“no preference shall be given by law to any religious sect, society, denomination, or mode of worship”), and Alabama’s Religious Freedom Amendment.
We successfully negotiated a settlement that gives Ms. Allen a new driver’s license with her head covering and the payment of $10,583.25 in damages, fees and costs (including the cost of a new license).