What is the Unruh Act?
The Unruh Civil Rights Act, named after former California State Assemblyman Jesse Unruh, is a California law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of several protected categories, including race, sex, religion, and disability. The Unruh Act is a powerful tool for individuals seeking to hold businesses accountable for discriminatory practices and has been used to advance the rights of marginalized communities in California.
Originally passed in 1959, the Unruh Act was a groundbreaking piece of legislation that made California one of the first states to prohibit discrimination in public accommodations. Since then, the law has been amended to include additional protected categories and to strengthen enforcement mechanisms.
In recent years, the Unruh Act has been used to advance the rights of individuals with disabilities in California. In particular, the law has been used to hold businesses accountable for failing to provide accessible websites and mobile applications. Businesses that operate in California, including those that are based outside of the state, must comply with the Unruh Act and ensure that their digital content is accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Who is affected by the Unruh Act?
The Unruh Act applies to all people, businesses, and organizations that provide goods or services to the public in California. It applies to a wide range of entities, including restaurants, hotels, hospitals, schools, retail stores, and many others. This means that all individuals in California have the right to be free from discrimination, regardless of their race, sex, religion, disability, and other protected characteristics, when accessing these services or goods.
What are the Unruh Act requirements?
The Unruh Act requires businesses to provide equal access to their websites and digital content for people with disabilities. This means that websites and online services must be designed and developed to be accessible to individuals with visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive disabilities.
While the Unruh Act does not provide specific technical requirements for web accessibility, courts have looked to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as a standard for compliance.
What are the costs associated with non-compliance?
One significant aspect of the Unruh Act is that it allows for individuals who have been subject to discrimination to recover damages from businesses that violate the law. Under the Act, individuals may recover up to $4,000 for each incident of discrimination, as well as attorney's fees and court costs. This provides a powerful incentive for businesses to comply with the law and ensure that their practices do not discriminate against protected groups.
The Unruh Act also provides for injunctive relief, which allows courts to order businesses to stop discriminatory practices and to take steps to prevent discrimination in the future. This aspect of the law has been particularly important in cases involving accessibility for individuals with disabilities, as it has allowed courts to order businesses to make their facilities and services more accessible.
How can Clym help?
Clym believes in striking a balance between digital compliance and your business needs, which is why we offer businesses the following:
- All-in-one platform: One interface combining Privacy and Accessibility compliance with global regulations, at an affordable price;
- Seamless integration into your website;
- Adaptability to your users’ location and applicable regulation;
- Customizable branding;
- Ready Compliance: Covering 30+ data privacy regulations;
- Six preconfigured accessibility profiles, as well as 25+ display adjustments that allow visitors to customise their individual experience.