A Reminder to Help You Prepare for the Blessed Month

Assalamu’ Alaikum:
We are recirculating this Ramadan and traveling civil rights primer so that you will have the information you need and are able to take full advantage of this blessed month. In addition to reviewing this information personally, please share it with your family and friends to ensure they too are empowered to assert their rights.

In the Workplace

datesYou are entitled to salat and iftar breaks and to take time off for Eid. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, in particular section 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(j), allows an employee to take time off from work for religious observance, so long as he or she gives the employer adequate notice and the employee’s absence does not cause an undue hardship to the employer. Where an employer is exempt from Federal law, they may nonetheless be subject to California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act (see § 51(b)).
Some best practices on how to request a religious accommodation at work:

  • Follow your employer’s policies when requesting an accommodation. Before making your request, review your employer’s handbook and follow any procedures stated in the employee handbook regarding notification and requesting time off
  • It is necessary you make clear that the reason you are requesting the accommodation is because of a religious belief or practice
  • Keep a personal record of when and how your request was made and whether and how it was accommodated
  • Be respectful when requesting an accommodation. Refrain from reciting the law, in the first instance, as most employers are willing to work with you to accommodate your requests for salat and iftar breaks and Eid time off

If your reasonable requests for salat and iftar breaks and/or Eid are not accommodated, please contact us by completing this form online.

At School

Students are also allowed to be excused for salat and iftar breaks, as well as for Eid. For more information please review the information about school accommodations in CAIR-CA’s recent report on Muslim youth at school (ref. pages 23-25).

While Traveling

planeWhen planning your Umrah travel, or any other travel, be sure to check all Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – Transport Security Administration (TSA) regulations and rules at the TSA website as well as the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) regulations on the CBP website.
Please keep the following in mind if you plan to bring back any gift items or souvenirs:

  • Check in any Zam Zam water bottles that you want to bring back. Airlines will NOT allow you to carry liquids in large quantities on the plane, so be sure to check in Zam Zam and other liquids
  • If you are bringing back dates, make sure they are processed and sufficiently dry. You may consider vacuum sealing your dates to ensure freshness and to minimize the likelihood of contamination.
  • When packing, ensure that your shoes are cleansed of any soil. CBP has strict rules regarding entry of soil, chemicals, etc. into the country
  • If you are bringing back currency (money, gold bars, etc.) worth more than $10,000, you will need to declare it. Any and all items received or purchased, irrespective of value, must also be declared. A failure to declare may result in confiscation by the CBP. Please check the CBP website for more information on customs duty

Entry into the U.S.

In order to enter or re-enter the United States, travelers must go through two processes at U.S. ports of entry; immigration and customs. CBP is a department within the DHS responsible for both aspects at the point of entry.
CBP officers are required to verify the identities of travelers upon their entry into the United States. They must also ensure that travelers have not been engaged in illegal activity that poses a threat to national security. It is critical to present valid documentation in the form of a valid passport and/or proper immigration paperwork if you are seeking admission into the U.S.; U.S. citizens have the unqualified right to re-enter the country.
Travelers are only required to answer questions about their citizenship, the nature of their trip and anything they are bringing back to the United States that they did not have with them when they left. You should immediately and politely object to any questions about your community, family, religion, politics or work. If you have experienced invasive questioning on previous returns into the U.S., it is advised that you consult with our civil rights department or a private attorney before your next trip. Please also see this CAIR travel advisory in regards to being detained while traveling.
CBP also has the authority to search all persons, baggage and merchandise arriving into the United States. This includes the search of files on laptops, cell phones and other electronic devices. If you do not want particular photos or files to be searched, it is best to upload them elsewhere and take them off the devices that you are traveling with.
If you have any concerns or questions, please complete this incident report form or call us at 408.986.9874 to speak with a member of our Civil Rights Department.
Lastly, please keep the CAIR board, staff, and volunteers in your duas during these blessed days.
Fatima Iqbal
Staff Attorney