Bankers Association Vice President Elaine Dodd said the “no hats, no hoods, no sunglasses” initiative has been successful at helping to reduce bank robberies while increasing the rate at which those crimes are cleared. But the industry group was encouraging member banks “to look at their policies and see what they can do to accommodate diversity.”
Mary Beth Guard, a Bankers Association attorney, recently addressed the topic in the group's industry newsletter, Oklahoma Banker.
“If someone came in with a ski mask to cash a check or open an account, you wouldn't hesitate to tell them they would need to remove it so you could take a gander at them, but when the head covering is worn for religious purposes, a more sensitive approach is required,” she wrote.
The Rev. William Tabbernee, executive director of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, said he was delighted with the way the banking group handled the issue.
“It is wonderful that the OBA recognizes that concern for safety and the right of individuals to wear religious headdress are not mutually exclusive and that, accordingly, bank employees are being educated about the appropriate way to deal with the religious public,” he said.