Unruh Civil Rights Act

Under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, all persons are entitled to full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments, including both private and public entities. The Unruh Civil Rights Act protects all persons against arbitrary and unreasonable discrimination by a business establishment (Civil Code section 51).

In cases alleging an Unruh Act violation, complaints must be filed with DFEH within one year from the date of the alleged discriminatory act. In cases alleging hate violence, complaints must be filed within one year of the day the victim becomes aware of the perpetrator’s identity, butnot more thanthree years from the date of injury. Please contact us immediately if there is any likelihood that this one-year period is about to expire.

You may file a private lawsuit under the Unruh Act (business establishments).  You are not required to file a complaint with Department and you do not need a Notice of Right to Sue. 

This law provides protection from discrimination by all business establishments in California, including housing and public accommodations, because of:

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

    However California Supreme Court has held that protections under the Unruh Act are not necessarily restricted to these characteristics. The Act is meant to cover all arbitrary and intentional discrimination by a business establishment on the bases of personal characteristics similar to those listed above.

    Civil Code, Division I, Part 2

    Section 51, et seq.  Unruh Civil Rights Act