Civil Code Section 51(a) created the Unruh Civil Rights Act, which provides that all persons in California are free and equal, and no matter what their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, citizenship, primary language, or immigration status are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind.
This section is not to be construed to confer any right or privilege on a person that is conditioned or limited by law or that is applicable to persons of every sex, color, race, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, sexual orientation, citizenship, primary language, or immigration status, or to persons regardless of their genetic information.
Nothing in this section is to be construed to require any construction, alteration, repair, structural or otherwise, or modification of any sort whatsoever, beyond that construction, alteration, repair, or modification that is otherwise required by other provisions of law, to any new or existing establishment, facility, building, improvement, or any other structure, nor is anything in this section to be construed to augment, restrict, or alter in any way the authority of the State Architect to require construction, alteration, repair, or modifications that the State Architect otherwise possesses pursuant to other laws.
This Act defines the following terms: “disability,” “genetic information,” “medical condition,” “religion,” “sex,” “sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, citizenship, primary language, or immigration status,” and “sexual orientation.”
A violation of the right of any individual under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 also constitutes a violation of this section. Verification of immigration status and any discrimination based upon verified immigration status, where required by federal law, does not constitute a violation of this section.
Civil Code Section 51.1 specifies that, if a violation of certain Civil Code sections is alleged or the application or construction of any of these sections is an issue in any proceeding in the Supreme Court of California, a state court of appeal, or the appellate division of a superior court, each party is required to serve a copy of the party’s brief or petition and brief, on the State Solicitor General at the Office of the Attorney General.
Civil Code Section 51.2 requires Section 51 to be construed to prohibit a business establishment from discriminating in the sale or rental of housing based upon age. Where accommodations are designed to meet the physical and social needs of senior citizens, a business establishment may establish and preserve that housing for senior citizens.
A housing development for senior citizens constructed on or after January 1, 2001, is to be presumed to be designed to meet the physical and social needs of senior citizens if it includes all of the specified elements. Finally, selection preferences based on age, imposed in connection with a federally approved housing program, do not constitute age discrimination in housing.
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