Former police officer Yeh Chi-yuan (葉繼元) on Thursday said that the National Police Agency (NPA) unlawfully sacked him and breached the Gender Equality in Employment Act (性別工作平等法) when it fired him for having long hair.
The NPA’s Second Special Police Corps sacked Yeh on Wednesday, after its disciplinary committee tallied Yeh’s performance as having numerous reprimands, which he incurred by refusing to cut his long hair.
Yeh said that although he is biologically male, he does not identify with either gender and firing him for not meeting the male-specific grooming standard is discriminatory.
Yeh held a press conference, accompanied by his attorney Kuo Te-tien (郭德田) and representatives from the Taiwan Police Union, the National Association for Firefighters’ Rights and Gender/Sexuality Rights Association Taiwan.
Having long hair makes him feel “safe” and gives him “a sense of comfort and well-being,” Yeh said, adding that his superiors at the corps gave him reprimands out of their desire to punish him for demanding changes to grooming standards.
According to records provided to CNA, Yeh was reprimanded a total of 36 times for grooming standards in 2013 and last year, receiving a “C” rating for his yearly performance despite having 19 commendations, while he received 20 reprimands for the same offense between February and June.
The corps ignored an internal communique filed in late August by the NPA, Kuo said.
“This agency finds it inappropriate to subject police officer Yeh to saturation reprimands on grounds that he breached police officers’ grooming standards stipulated in the Code of Conduct for Police Personnel (警察人員獎懲標準),” Kuo quoted the NPA document as saying.
It was “deeply disappointing” that the disciplinary committee took only 10 minutes to reach a decision in his case and that the panel refused to confront his questions about gender equality during the hearing, Yeh said.
The Taiwan Police Union issued a statement that said: “The Gender Equality in Employment Act demands that no discrimination against the gender or sexuality of employees should be exercised by employers... As a public institution, the NPA should be vigilant in adhering to the law, instead of leading the charge in violating it.”
A poll conducted by Yahoo-Kimo, Yahoo’s Taiwan unit, showed that 66.8 percent of respondents favored allowing police officers to have long hair, with 28.9 percent opposing the practice.