We are writing to provide a reminder of your civil rights as we welcome the month of Ramadan and the resumption of some activities in light of easing COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. As our lives continue to change, we hope that you will have the information you need to take full advantage of this blessed month.
While it might seem intimidating to request an accommodation at school or work, remember that you have a right to practice your religion and there are laws that ensure you can exercise this right.
Students should be accommodated for prayers, iftars, and Eid. Requests for these accommodations should be made in writing.
Generally, the law prohibits schools from penalizing students for missing school on religious holidays if the absences are excused, and prior approval is granted. Moreover, students are permitted to pray individually or within a group during the school day; and students may be permitted to leave school to attend Juma’ah prayers. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be restrictions on group activities to protect public safety yet a disfavoring of religious activities over other events are likely unconstitutional.
You can read more about your right to accommodations at school, what you and your parents should know if you’re experiencing bullying, and review our resource for school officials on our website. For more details, you can watch a recent webinar about this topic on our Facebook page.
In the Workplace
You are entitled to prayer and iftar breaks and to take time off for Eid, so long as the request is reasonable and does not cause an undue hardship to the employer. If you request religious accommodations employers are required to engage in an interactive process to come to an agreement about accommodations.
Things to remember when asking for Ramadan accommodations:
- Familiarize yourself with your employer’s procedures for requesting religious accommodations.
- Make it clear that you are requesting the accommodation because of your sincerely-held religious belief or practice (employers may not determine whether a religious belief or practice is required or conforms with a religion).
- Make your request to your direct supervisor or to the person designated by company policy (this is often the human resources department) in writing as early as you can.
- Your employer is not required to provide the specific or preferred accommodation you are requesting. If your employer provides you with alternatives that are reasonable accommodations, they will have met their legal obligations.
- If your employer fails to engage in an interactive process with regards to providing accommodations, you should file a complaint with your direct supervisor and the person designated by company policy.
You can read more about your rights as an employee in California and share our guide for employers, in case you are a manager or your managers have questions, on our website. For more details, you can watch a recent webinar about this topic on our Facebook page.
For individuals and community members who remain unable to work because of concerns related to COVID-19 there may be potential unemployment and pandemic-related assistance benefits available. CAIR-SFBA provides consultations and advice for some unemployment benefits programs and can refer community members to appropriate resources and assistance, if and where applicable.
As a general reminder, if you or a loved one are the target of discrimination and harassment, please reach out to our legal department through our incident report form or by calling 408.986.9874 for a consultation and assistance.
Thank you for your support of CAIR’s work and for asserting your rights to protect yourself and your community.