At CAIR-WA, we believe that all people should know and be able to stand up for their rights. If your rights are violated, there are places to turn! If you’re Muslim (or are perceived as Muslim) and have been discriminated against because of that identity, you can reach out to CAIR-WA for help.

For a primer on discrimination, harassment, and protected classes, check out our website In honor of CAIR-WA’s twentieth anniversary as a chapter, we are sharing twenty key civil rights that you have in the U.S. that we think you should know.

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Religious Rights

1. Everyone has the right to practice his or her own religion, or no religion at all (First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution). The free exercise of religion includes the right to act or abstain from action in accordance with one’s religious beliefs. The freedom of religion extends to persons and organizations.

2. Government may not target religious individuals or entities through discriminatory enforcement of neutral, generally applicable laws.

3. Government may not officially favor or disfavor particular religious groups.

4. Government may not interfere with the autonomy of a religious organization.

Rights in Education

5. The right to education is legally guaranteed for all without any discrimination. All children living in Washington State have the right to access public education. Children can start kindergarten at age 5 and continue in school until they graduate or turn 21.

6. States have the obligation to protect, respect, and fulfil the right to education.

7. Students who do not speak English have the right to require the school district to provide them with bilingual education or English language instruction or both.

Workplace Rights

8. You have the right to receive equal pay for equal work.

9. Right to be Free from Harassment: Workers have the right to a workplace free of sexual harassment, and free of discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, gender, national origin, age, family status, sexual orientation, disability or appearance of disability, veteran status, or other protected class.

10. Right to receive reasonable accommodations (change the way things are normally done at work) for medical reasons or religious beliefs, if required by law

11. Right to take sick time: Workers in WA state get 1 hour of paid sick time for every 40 hours of work. You can use your earned sick time if you are sick, need to go to a doctor appointment, need to take care of a sick family member, or for leave related to domestic violence.

12. Right to medical confidentiality: You have the right to expect that any medical information or genetic information that is shared with employers will be confidential.

13. Right to report discrimination, participate in investigations of discrimination or lawsuits or oppose discrimination (threaten to file a discrimination complaint, without being retaliated against (punished) for doing so.

Rights as a non-citizen

14. If you are a non-citizen, you have a lot of rights! You must receive the same treatment as citizens in many ways. Your citizenship status is a protected class nationally. In addition, in Washington state, your immigration status is a protected class. This means that you can’t be treated differently than another person based solely on your immigration status. This is especially important in terms of employment, housing, educational access, and healthcare.

Rights in Housing

15. Federally under the Fair Housing Act: You have the right to be free from eviction based on discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or family status For Seattle Residents: Under the Fair Chance Housing ordinance, you have the right to rent and be free from eviction regardless of criminal or arrest history.

16. Fair housing laws also prohibit protected class harassment; which means it protect you from harassment based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or family status

17. Can a landlord or a real estate agent ask about immigration status? No. It is illegal for a landlord or real estate agent to ask you about your immigration status because of how you look, talk, or dress

Rights when interacting with Law Enforcement

18. When stopped by a police officer, you have the right to remain silent. If you do not want to speak with the officer and wish to remain silent, tell the officer. You do not have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings. You have the right to say no if asked.

Rights when FBI or Immigration Agents show up at your house

19. You have the right to refuse entry to your home unless they show a signed warrant by a judge. A signed warrant by a judge is an official court document. You have the right to say, “I do not consent to you entering my home.”

20. You have the right not to speak to these agents without a lawyer present. Tell them you do not wish to speak to them without a lawyer present. You do not have to speak to an immigration agent, hand over documents, or consent to a search.

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