California Unruh Civil Rights Act
What is the California Unruh Civil Rights Act?
In the California Unruh Civil Rights Act or Unruh Act, California legislation prohibits discrimination based on disability. Specifically, the California Unruh Civil Rights Act provides protection from discrimination by all business establishments in California, including housing and public accommodations, and may also include government and public entities. The Act states, “All persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and no matter what their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, or sexual orientation are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever.”
However, the California Supreme Court has ruled that protections under this Act are not restricted to just these characteristics and is meant to include any discrimination by a business establishment on the basis of personal characteristics. The law also protects the rights of individuals with disabilities to use streets, highways and other public places; public conveyances; places of public accommodation, amusement or resort, and housing accommodations; and guide, signal, or service animals or alternative accommodations.
The California Unruh Civil Rights Act applies to all business establishments including, but not limited to:
- Hotels, motels and accommodations
- Restaurants and bars
- Retail establishments
- Non-profit organizations
- Professional organization and golf clubs
Various legal precedents have been established stating that businesses with operations in the state of California are required to comply with the requirements of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA Success Criteria because of Title III of the ADA and the California Unruh Act. Consequently, the California Unruh Act has played a vital role in affirming inaccessible websites as discriminatory under the ADA Title III definition of “places of public accommodations.”