Unruh Civil Rights Act

Unruh Civil Rights Act

Protection Under California Law

Under the California Unruh Civil Rights Act, all people are free and equal and are entitled to full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services by any business establishment. California law protects individuals against discrimination and harassment by a business establishment based on any of the following (or similar) personal characteristics:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Ancestry
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Primary language
  • Citizenship, immigration status
  • Disability (mental or physical)
  • Medical condition
  • Genetic information
  • Marital status
  • Sex, gender (including pregnancy)
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity, gender expression

Business Establishments

California law prohibits arbitrary discrimination by all Businesses establishments, including, among others, the following:

  • Hotels
  • Restaurants
  • Theaters
  • Bars
  • Nightclubs
  • Retail stores
  • Golf courses
  • Gyms
  • Fitness clubs
  • Hospitals
  • Barber shops
  • Housing accommodations
  • Public agencies
  • Non-profit organizations (open to the public)

 Damages and Remedies

 California law provides for a variety of remedies for victims of discrimination. These may include:

  • Actual damages
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Emotional distress damages
  • Statutory damages
  • Three times actual damages
  • Punitive damages
  • Attorney’s fees and costs

Unruh Claims

An Unruh claim may be filed as a civil action in court or with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. 

 


Resources: 

California Civil Code sections 51 & 52