Ralph Civil Rights Act

The Ralph Civil Rights Act, California Civil Code section 51.7, provides protection from hate violence. It prohibits violence or threats of violence based on:

  • Age
  • Ancestry
  • Color
  • Disability
  • Genetic Information
  • National Origin
  • Marital Status
  • Medical Condition (cancer and genetic characteristics)
  • Political Affiliation
  • Position in a Labor Dispute
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sex (which includes pregnancy, childbirth, and medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth, gender, gender identity, and gender expression)
  • Sexual Orientation

Persons who believe they have been subjected to hate violence may file a DFEH complaint. In cases alleging hate violence, complaints must be filed within one year of the day the victim becomes aware of the perpetrator’s identity, but not more than three years from the date of injury.

You may file a private lawsuit under the Ralph Civil Rights Act (hate violence). You are not required to file a complaint with the Department before filing a lawsuit alleging Ralph Civil Rights Act violations and you do not need a Right to Sue. 

Some examples of bias-related acts that are forbidden by the Ralph Civil Rights Act are:

  • Threats, Verbal or Written
  • Physical Assault or Attempted Assault
  • Graffiti
  • Name-Calling
  • Swastika Paintings
  • Cross-Burning
  • Bomb Threats
  • Arson
  • Disturbance of Religious Meetings
  • Vandalism or Property Damage

Civil remedies

Civil remedies available under the Ralph Civil Rights Act include:

  • Restraining Orders: After a restraining order is obtained from a court, violators of that court order can be fined or jailed.
  • Actual Damages: Damages may include the cost of the victim's medical treatment, lost wages, property repair, or payment for emotional suffering and distress.
  • Punitive Damages: A court can order additional damages to punish violators.
  • Civil Penalties: A court may order a fine of up to $25,000 which would be awarded to the person filing the complaint.
  • Attorney's Fees: A court may order the payment of the complainant's attorney fees resulting from the lawsuit.

Civil Code, Division I, Part 2


Section 51.7    Ralph Civil Rights Act