As the blessed month of Ramadan winds down, our legal team at CAIR-SFBA has continued to thirstily advocate for the rights of community members ranging from employment discrimination complaints, Islamophobic harassment of individuals and continued advocacy on behalf of family members of U.S. citizens impacted by the Muslim Ban. This month, our team worked to increase awareness of workers’ religious rights during Ramadan and a culture reset at workplaces that might be actively hostile or unaware of the needs of Muslim employees.
To start the month of Ramadan, our Legal Fellow, Sally Horna, reminded the community of their rights at work and in schools, as well as how to navigate dealing with the respective administrators in order to get the accommodations needed to make your Ramadan smoother. We recommend that you review our community advisory here as we get ready to celebrate the end of a month full of mercy, answered prayers and vigils for justice with the dawn of Eid.
Did you know that you are entitled to prayer/Iftar breaks and time off for Eid? Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and particularly section 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(j) allows an employee to take time off for sincerely held religious beliefs as long as he or she gives notice and the accommodation does not result in an undue hardship for the employer. Where an employer is exempt from federal law, they may still be subject to California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (see Government Code sections 12900 – 12996) and to California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act (see § 51(b)).
If your reasonable accommodation requests for prayer/Iftar breaks as well as taking the day off for Eid are not accepted, please contact us by completing this form.
Close to home, our legal staff advocated on behalf of a Muslim San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) officer whose whistle-blowing opened the lid on a troubling culture of racism and bigotry within the law enforcement agency. The SFPD officer dealt with numerous incidents of verbal abuse that singled out his national origin and religious background. To make matters worse, the Muslim SFPD officer faced retaliation for his bravery from the top brass as well as his fellow officers. In another case, CAIR-SFBA legal staff were quick to address equally disheartening allegations of Islamophobic harassment of a veteran San Jose Police Department (SJPD) officer who is Muslim. In addition to being called a terrorist repeatedly by fellow SJPD officers, the Muslim officer was mocked by his superiors at a briefing in front of the entire police department as a veteran of “ISIS”. The escalation of this harassment and the feeling of helplessness knowing that his supervisors could not be relied upon to stem the torrent of hostility towards his religious background forced the SJPD officer to step into the public spotlight. Bolstered by the courage of the SFPD officer, the SJPD officer’s lawsuit alleging discrimination against the city of San Jose and its police department opens the door for possible reforms to the culture.
One final thing! This June is when the much-awaited Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the Trump administration’s divisive Muslim Ban is due to be announced and as we have throughout this past year, CAIR-SFBA will be ready to respond and assist the community throughout the process, regardless of which the winds blow.
Civil Rights & Legal Services Coordinator