The California Unruh Act: A simple web accessibility guide
While you may be aware of how the ADA (Americans with Disability Act) can incorporate website accessibility, you may not necessarily be aware of how individual state laws can enforce compliance of website accessibility in businesses. This guide will dive deeper into California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act which was a landmark civil rights law protecting people from business discrimination or harassment within the State of California.
What is the Unruh Civil Rights Act?
California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, enacted in 1959, protects people with disabilities from discrimination by most business establishments, including housing and public establishments.
It was originally intended for brick-and-mortar establishments but now includes virtual businesses as well. The Act requires “full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges or services in all business establishments.” This includes, but is not limited to, the following places:
- Hotels and motels
- Nonprofit organizations that have a business purpose or are a public accommodation
- Barbershops and beauty salons
- Housing accommodations
- Public agencies
- Retail establishments
The Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, ancestry, language, immigration status, citizenship, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, medical condition, or genetic information. In 1992, the Unruh Act was amended to include standards created within the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) that apply to persons with disabilities. This resulted in any violation of the ADA as a violation of the Unruh Act.