On July 24, 1955, the New York State Labor Department ruled that a man who had been fired from his job as a swimming pool attendant was entitled to receive unemployment compensation.

Why was he fired? He refused to shave off his Van Dyke beard, which he had grown in order to obtain employment as an art class model.

The local labor department refused to allow the unnamed man to receive unemployment benefits, so the pool attendant – slash – artist’s model appealed to the state.

In the ruling, the arbitrator handling the case said that his firing was β€œAn unwarranted infringement upon his privilege as an individual in a free community to present such an appearance as he wished as long as it did not affect his duties adversely and did not injure the employer in his business reputation.”

Anthony van Dyck Self Portrait
The Van Dyke beard is named after 17th-century artist Anthony Van Dyck. He painted this self-portrait in 1633.
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