California Department of Fair Employment & Housing
General Information about the
UNRUH CIVIL RIGHTS ACT
What is the Unruh Civil Rights Act?
The Unruh Civil Rights Act, California Civil Code sections 51 through
51.3, provides protection from discrimination by all business establishments
in California, including housing and public accommodations. California
Civil Code section 51(b) describes the protections found under the Unruh
Civil Rights Act:
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, or medical condition are
entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages
facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments
of every kind whatsoever. Civil Code section 51(b)
Who is Protected?
The language of the Unruh Civil Rights Act (see above) specifically outlaws
discrimination in housing and public accommodations based on sex, race,
color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, or medical condition.
While the Unruh Civil Rights Act specifically lists “sex, race, color, religion,
ancestry, national origin, disability, or medical condition” as protected
classes, the 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 basis of personal characteristics similar to
those listed above.
(continued on reverse)
Fact Sheet – Unruh Civil Rights Act
What Businesses Are Covered?
This law requires "Full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities,
privileges or services in all business establishments." This includes but is not
• Hotels and Motels
• Non-Profit Organizations
• Barber and Beauty Shops
• Housing Accommodations
• Public Agencies
• Retail Establishments
What Remedies are Available for Victims of Discrimination?
This law prov