BILL ANALYSIS Ó SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, Chair 2015 - 2016 Regular Session SB 600 (Pan) Version: April 6, 2015 Hearing Date: May 12, 2015 Fiscal: No Urgency: No RD SUBJECT Discrimination: citizenship: language: immigration status DESCRIPTION Under existing law, the Unruh Civil Rights Act prohibits business establishments from discriminating against any individual on the basis of certain characteristics such as sex, race, and national origin. This bill would add citizenship, primary language, and immigration status to the list of protected classes under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, except that a verification of immigration status and any discrimination based upon verified immigration status, where required by federal law, shall not constitute an Unruh violation. This bill would also specify that the inclusion of these classifications under Unruh does not constitute a change in, but is declaratory of, existing law. BACKGROUND California law, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the Unruh Civil Rights Act, prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodation, and services provided by business establishments on the basis of specified personal characteristics such as sex, race, color, national origin, religion, and disability. Over time, these statutes have evolved to include other characteristics such as medical condition, marital status, sexual orientation, and genetic information to generally reflect the state's public policy against discrimination in all forms. The Unruh Civil Rights Act is meant to cover all arbitrary and intentional SB 600 (Pan) Page 2 of ? discrimination by a business establishment on the basis of the personal characteristics listed above, whereas FEHA is the principal California statute prohibiting employment and housing discrimination covering employers, labor organizations, employment agencies, apprenticeship programs, and any person or entity, who aids, abets, incites, compels, or coerces the doing of a discriminatory act. Unlike Unruh, however, FEHA expressly provides that it is also an unlawful employment practice for an employer to adopt or enforce a policy that prohibits the use of any language in the workplace. (Gov. Code Secs. 12900-12996; there is an exception to this general rule where the policy is justified by business necessity and prescribed notice of the policy and consequences for violation of the policy is given to employees.) The California Supreme Court has consistently held that the Unruh Civil Rights Act provides broad protection to all persons who are arbitrarily discriminated against by business establishments. Beginning in the 1950's the court found that the State Board of Equalization acted illegally by suspending the license of a bar and restaurant merely because it allowed patronage by gay people whom the licensor saw as "immoral." (Stoumen v. Reilly (1951) 37 Cal.2d 713.) In 1970, the court held that the Unruh Civil Rights Act forbids a business establishment that is generally open to the public from arbitrarily excluding a prospective customer (In re Cox (1970) 3 Cal.3d 205.) This case was followed by Marina Point, Ltd. v. Wolfson (1982) 30 Cal.3d 721, which found that a landlord's "no children" policy was arbitrary discrimination based on familial status that violated the Act. In all of these cases, the court engaged in statutory analysis of the Unruh Civil Rights Act and determined the "past judicial interpretation of the act, and the history of legislative action that extended the statutes' scope, indicate that identification of particular bases of discrimination - color, race, religion, ancestry, and national origin . . . is illustrative rather than restrictive. Although the legislation has been invoked primarily by persons alleging discrimination on racial grounds, its language and its history compel the conclusion that the Legislature intended to prohibit all arbitrary discrimination by business establishments." (See In re Cox, 3 Cal.3d at 216.) Nonetheless, on several occasions, the State has approved expanding Unruh to expressly cover new classifications. In SB 600 (Pan) Page 3 of ? 2005, AB 1400 (Laird, Ch. 420, Stats. 2005) specified that discrimination based on marital status and sexual orientation would not be tolerated in California by adding those classifications to Unruh. The purpose of that legislation was to address repeated complaints from individuals and attorneys representing victims of discrimination based on marital status and sexual orientation who claimed difficulty enforcing these protections because they were not expressly specified in the law. In 2011, AB 887 (Atkins, Ch. 719, Stats. 2011) was enacted to expressly add "gender identity" and "gender expression" throughout both Unruh and FEHA and to define "gender expression" to mean a person's gender-related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person's assigned sex at birth. Also in 2011, SB 559 (Padilla, Ch. 261, Stats. 2011) was enacted to add genetic information to both Unruh and FEHA, as well as other anti-discrimination statutes. Notably, in 1999, AB 407 (Cedillo, 1999), also sponsored by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), sought to add discrimination based on immigration status to Unruh, among other things. That bill was ultimately vetoed by then-Governor Davis, because "all residents of California, regardless of immigration status, are already protected from discrimination based in their personal characteristics, specifically ethnic origin and nationality." Prior bills have also sought to expressly add language to Unruh and have similarly been vetoed. (See Comment 4.) This bill now seeks to add citizenship, primary language, and immigration status as protected classifications under the Unruh Civil Rights Act. CHANGES TO EXISTING LAW Existing law , the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), prohibits discrimination in housing and employment on the basis of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or military and veteran status. (Gov. Code Sec. 12920 et seq.) Existing law , FEHA, provides that it is an unlawful employment practice for an employer to adopt or enforce a policy that prohibits the use of any language in the workplace, except if that policy is justified by "business necessity" and prescribed SB 600 (Pan) Page 4 of ? notice of the policy and consequences for violation of the policy is given to employees, as specified. (Gov. Code Sec. 12951.) Existing law , the Unruh Civil Rights Act, provides that all persons in California are free and equal, and regardless of a person's sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, or sexual orientation, everyone is entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments. (Civ. Code Sec. 51.) This bill would add citizenship, primary language, and immigration status to the list of characteristics protected under the Unruh Civil Rights Act. This bill would specify that a verification of immigration status and any discrimination based upon verified immigration status, where required by federal law, shall not constitute a violation of Unruh. This bill would provide that these additions to Unruh do not constitute a change in, but are declaratory of, existing law. This bill would provide that it is not the intent of the Legislature in amending Unruh to affect the protected status of any other classification, whether or not expressed in the Unruh statute. COMMENT 1. Stated need for the bill According to the author: The United States Supreme Court has previously held that citizenship and language are not the same as national origin, and that federal protections against discrimination on the basis of these characteristics is not covered by constitutional provisions and laws barring national origin discrimination. Thus, in Espinoza v. Farah Mfg. Co., 414 U.S. 86 (1973), the Court held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of national origin, does not prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of citizenship. More recently, in Hernandez v. New York, 500 U.S. 352 (1991), the Supreme Court SB 600 (Pan) Page 5 of ? [ . . . ] concluded that constitutional protections against jury exclusion on the basis of race and national origin do not protect against discrimination on the basis of language. In both cases, while there were indications that citizenship and language were closely linked with ethnicity, the Court rejected inclusion of either in the covered category of national origin. Neither case has been overruled, and both remain binding [as a matter of federal] law. While courts have construed the Unruh Act in California law broadly and liberally, it is not clear that discrimination on the basis of characteristics that are not innate or related to personal appearance would be construed as covered. In Harris v. Capitol Growth Investors XIV, 52 Cal.3d 1142 (1991), the California Supreme Court, in rejecting application of the Unruh Act to financial classifications, stated: [ . . . ] Although our decisions have occasionally recognized additional categories of prohibited discrimination (e.g., physical appearance and family status), those categories were based on personal characteristics of individuals that bore little or no relationship to their abilities to be responsible consumers of public accommodations. Id. at 1148. [As a result, the] concern is that citizenship, language and immigration status --which are theoretically changeable for all persons -- would be construed as more like the economic distinctions in Harris and less like the largely immutable characteristics listed in the statute and unlike the characteristics of personal appearance having no rational relationship to any basis for distinction in business establishments. As stated by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), co-sponsor of this bill: The Unruh Act has long ensured that California businesses do not engage in arbitrary discrimination. While the California Supreme Court has held that the listed prohibited grounds for discrimination are "illustrative rather than restrictive," In re Cox, 3 Cal. 3d 205, 216 (1970), it has also concluded that the prohibited discrimination must be similar to the kinds of characteristics listed in the statute. Thus, in rejecting coverage of discrimination on the basis of financial or SB 600 (Pan) Page 6 of ? economic status, the Court held that the Unruh Act prohibits discrimination based on "the classifications listed in the Act . . . or similar personal traits, beliefs, or characteristics that bear no relationship to the responsibilities of consumers of public accommodations." Harris v. Capital Growth Investors XIV, 52 Cal.3d 1142, 1169 (1991). While many might conclude that citizenship, primary language, and immigration status are personal characteristics like those specified in the act, others might well determine that these characteristics, which are changeable and, in other circumstances, relevant considerations under the law, are more akin to the financial and economic status addressed in Harris. It helps no one - least of all the businesses required to comply with the Unruh Act - to require Californians to parse court opinions to reach a debatable conclusion about how to comply with the law. [ . . . ] In an age when too many political leaders engage in unduly harsh, judgmental, and dehumanizing rhetoric about immigrants, California should provide clear notice to business proprietors that they cannot allow overheated political demagoguery to lead them to the erroneous conclusion that they may discriminate in public accommodations. Co-sponsor, California Civil Rights Coalition (CCRC) writes: "CCRC strongly favors ensuring that our state laws clearly and comprehensively protect against bias and discrimination. Prevention of discrimination is far superior to remedying discrimination after it has occurred. CCRC therefore supports greater clarity in all of our civil rights laws. SB 600 addresses this goal with respect to business discrimination against immigrants. In addition, our economy and every business that contributes to our economy will thrive if the distortions in competition caused by discrimination are avoided. At the national level, immigration reform and immigrant integration remain politically controversial. Unfortunately, our state, as a critical part of the nation, cannot be totally immune from the influence of our nation's increasingly contentious and debased public debate on the issue. We can, however, limit the impacts of the increasing demonization of immigrants in public discourse by enacting sensible legislation like SB 600." 2. Bill seeks to clarify the prohibition against national origin discrimination under Unruh SB 600 (Pan) Page 7 of ? This bill seeks to add citizenship, primary language, and immigration status to the list of protected classes under the Unruh Civil Rights Act and declares that it is a restatement of existing law. While no case has directly held that immigration status is covered within Unruh, it would appear consistent with existing law which prohibits arbitrary discrimination based upon personal characteristics. (Harris v. Capitol Growth Investors XIV (1991) 52 Cal.3d 1142.) In addition, existing law prohibits discrimination based upon national origin, of which immigrants are a subset . In order ensure protection against impermissible discrimination based upon the category of "national origin," discrimination against members of any subset of that category must also be prohibited under existing law. This concept is supported by the history of the Unruh Act, and by analogous case law. (See discussion in Vaughn v. Neu Proler International (1990) 223 Cal.App.3d.1612, 1617, at fn. 2.) Accordingly, as noted in the Background, this state's Supreme Court has held that the conduct that is enumerated in Unruh (Section 51) is illustrative rather than restrictive. (In re Cox (1970) 3 Cal.3d 205, 212.) "Both the language of the statute and its history 'disclose a clear and large design to interdict all arbitrary discrimination by a business enterprise.' [ . . . ] 'The act protects all persons from arbitrary discrimination . . . .' It is not limited to a category of 'protected classes.' [ . . . ] The statutory right afforded 'all persons'" by section 51 is of an individual nature. [ . . . ] Section 51 was derived "from the common law doctrine which imposed upon certain enterprises affected with a public interest '"the duty to serve all customers on reasonable terms without discrimination."' [ . . . ] Under this common law principle, each member of the public, as an individual, possessed the right to obtain services of such enterprises. [ . . . ] The rights afforded by the Unruh Act similarly are enjoyed by all persons, as individuals." (Vaughn, 223 Cal.App.3d at 1617 (internal citations omitted).) As an earlier court explained further: "As employed in sections 51 and 52 of the Civil Code, the term 'citizen' is not used in a restricted sense -- that is, a citizen of a state or citizen of the United States -- but in the broad and unrestricted sense, implying that one is a resident of the state and as such entitled to invoke the jurisdiction of its courts to SB 600 (Pan) Page 8 of ? protect a right guaranteed to all, without reference to race or color, who reside within its jurisdiction." (Prowd v. Gore (1922) 57 Cal.App. 458.) The Prowd court went on to state, "[i]n our opinion, it was not the intent of the legislature to restrict the operation of the statute to those only who were subjects of the United States government and exclude therefrom unnaturalized residents of foreign birth, whether white or black." (Id.) With respect to the bill's addition of primary language, language, in many cases, is closely tied to an individual's national origin, and arbitrary bans on foreign languages could easily be used to mask intentional discrimination on the basis of national origin. Public policy, thus, is arguably best served by prohibiting restriction on the usage of any language in business establishments. At the same time, staff notes that similar bills seeking to add language to Unruh's protections have been vetoed, both: (1) based upon the belief that existing law already prohibits businesses from limiting the use of language without a business necessity and protects against discrimination based on language when it is used as a pretext to discriminate against persons due to their national origin; and (2) based upon concerns of the effect that would be had on businesses, and particularly small businesses that may violate this prohibition without any malice or bad intent. (See Comment 5.) 3. Vetoes of prior related legislation AB 2521 (Napolitano) of 1994, would have added immigrant status and homelessness to a hate crimes law under the Penal Code. The bill was vetoed by then-Governor Pete Wilson, who stated: "Notwithstanding the obvious good intention to add these new classes to those already protected from hate crimes, there is need for great caution in doing so to prevent unintended consequences. That is especially true in the case of conscientious public officials, whose duties require enforcement of laws or regulations that expressly focus upon homelessness or immigration status." Notably, unlike that bill, SB 600 provides that a verification of immigration status and any discrimination based upon verified immigration status, where required by federal law, shall not constitute an Unruh violation. Similar to this bill, AB 407 (Cedillo, 1999) would have added immigrant status to Unruh. That bill was vetoed by SB 600 (Pan) Page 9 of ? then-Governor Gray Davis, who stated: "All persons should be free from discrimination. Under the Unruh Act all residents of California, regardless of immigration status, are already protected from discrimination based in their personal characteristics, specifically ethnic origin and nationality. This bill is unnecessary because the addition of 'immigration status' to the list of protected classes would not materially enhance the scope of protection that is now available under the Unruh Act." Also similar to this bill, SB 111 (Yee, 2011), as heard by this Committee, would have it a violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act to adopt or enforce a policy that limits or prohibits the use of any language in a business establishment, unless the language is justified by a business necessity and notification has been provided of the circumstances and the time when the language restriction is required to be observed, and of the consequences for its violation. SB 111 also specified that the bill was not to be construed to impose a duty on any business establishment to provide customer service in a particular language unless that duty is otherwise required by law. SB 111 was ultimately vetoed by Governor Brown, who stated: "Existing law already prohibits businesses from limiting the use of language without a business necessity. In addition, existing law specifically protects against discrimination based on language when it is used as a pretext to discriminate against persons due to their national origin." Governor Brown's veto also expressed concern "that businesses, especially small businesses, could run afoul of this measure without any malice or bad intent, thereby subjecting themselves to costly litigation." SB 111, as heard in this Committee, was nearly identical to the enrolled version of SB 242 (Yee, 2009). In vetoing SB 242, the Governor stated: "While no one should be treated differently based on their race or national origin, no single business can accommodate every language spoken in California. Unfortunately, under this measure, any business that treats customers differently because the business may not be able to effectively communicate with the customer could then be required to justify such disparate treatment in a court of law. Since this measure would have the unintended effect of increasing frivolous lawsuits against businesses, I am unable to sign this bill." SB 600 (Pan) Page 10 of ? Support : American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); Anti-Defamation League; Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Sacramento; ASPIRE; California Immigrant Policy Center; California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. (CRLAF); California Teachers Association; Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment; Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA); Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC); Friends Committee on Legislation of California; Immigration Center for Women and Children (ICWC); Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance (CIYJA); National Association of Social Workers; Services Immigrant Rights, and Education Network (SIREN) Opposition : None Known HISTORY Source : California Civil Rights Coalition; Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) Related Pending Legislation : None Known Prior Legislation : AB 887 (Atkins, Ch. 719, Stats. 2011) See Background. SB 559 (Padilla, Ch. 261, Stats. 2011) See Background. SB 111 (Yee, 2011) See Comment 3. SB 242 (Yee, 2009) See Comment 3. AB 1400 (Laird, Ch. 420, Stats. 2005) See Background. AB 407 (Cedillo, 1999) See Background and Comment 3. AB 2521 (Napolitano, 1994) See Comment 3. ************** SB 600 (Pan) Page 11 of ?