May 23, 2023

(SACRAMENTO, CA, 5/23/2023) – The California chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-CA), today welcomed the successful, unanimous, and bipartisan passage of SB 461 through the California State Senate. 

The bill, authored by Senator Aisha Wahab and sponsored by CAIR-CA, aims to allow state employees to use an allotted eight hours of holiday credit for holidays related to an employee’s religion, culture, or heritage. Currently, the time may only be used for certain predetermined holidays. The bill was heard and passed through the Senate Labor Committee and Senate Appropriations Committee. 

In a statement, CAIR-CA CEO Hussam Ayloush said:   

“Religious and cultural observances are integral components of individual and collective identities. Today, we have come one step closer to allowing state employees time off to observe their religious holidays, regardless of faith or culture. 

“SB 461 reaffirms that California is an inclusive state that embraces its diversity. The bill ensures that all state employees have equal rights to observe their religious and cultural holidays, whether that means Eid, Rosh Hashanah, Diwali, Ash Wednesday, or any of the other, many holidays that were excluded in previous legislations.” 

In a statement, CAIR-CA Policy & Government Affairs Manager Nazeehah Khan said:     

“Holidays are an opportunity for people to commemorate their identity and connect with their community. This bill will allow California’s Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, and all religious minorities in state service the flexibility to take eight hours of time off to celebrate their religious and cultural holidays. 

“We thank Senator Wahab for her leadership on this crucial piece of legislation and coauthors Senator Becker, Cortese, Min, Skinner, Smallwood-Cuevas, and Weiner for their strong support. We are grateful to partner with lawmakers who value and prioritize workplace inclusion and safety.”    

As part of a continuous effort to improve religious accommodations and create safe working environments, CAIR-CA has also worked in previous years to advocate for laws such as AB 1964 (2012), which allowed religious dress and grooming practices to be covered by protections against religious discrimination in the workplace. 

Studies have shown that amplifying the authentic narratives of communities and celebrating their diversity is the most effective way to address instances of hate, discrimination, and bullying. SB 461 would help California achieve that goal and CAIR-CA looks forward to the bill’s progression through the legislature. 

The bill will now crossover to the California State Assembly where it must pass through the chamber’s committees. 

CAIR-CA is a chapter of CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.      

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CONTACT: CAIR-LA Digital Communications Manager Enjy El-Kadi,, (714) 851-4851