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Commonly known as the Unruh Act, California’s Civil Code contains a series of provisions intended to protect civil rights within and outside of employment situations.
California’s Unruh Act prohibits business entities from denying “full and equal accommodations” on the basis of “sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation.” For example, Civil Code Section 51.9 prohibits sexual harassment where a “business, service or professional relationship” exists. The statute, a part of the Unruh Civil Rights Act, specifically applies to relationships with physicians, dentists, attorneys, real estate agents, accountants, bankers, building contractors, executors, trustees, landlords, and teachers, and any other relationship “substantially similar” to those listed. This section of the Act protects citizens from sexual harassment outside of the workplace or employment relationship.
The Unruh Act also incorporates federal law protections for the disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Cases frequently treat as part of the “Unruh Act” several related Civil Code provisions: (1) Civil Code Section 52.1 (interference with constitutional rights), Civil Code Section 51.3 (specially designed accessible senior citizen housing), Civil Code Section 51.5 (business discrimination in buying, selling, etc.), Civil Code Section 51.7 (freedom from violence or intimidation), Civil Code Section 51.9 (sexual harassment), Civil Code Section 54.1 (disabled persons’ access to public accommodations and housing) and Civil Code Section 52 (damages liability for discrimination in violation of Civil Code Sections 51, 51.5 and 51.6).
The Unruh Act is increasingly treated as an omnibus anti-discrimination statute no longer limited to merely ensuring equal access to accommodations. If you believe you are a victim of discrimination or sexual harassment, you may have a claim that you can assert against the business or professional responsible for the discrimination or harassment. Contact our CA Employment Law Firm by completing the email form on this website or calling us. We offer free consultations. Call an experienced Los Angeles employee rights attorney at 818.788.1123.