Civil Rights Highlights
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
The Office of the Attorney General has taken aggressive measures to improve civil rights enforcement in the State of California. Shortly after taking office, the Attorney General created a separate section within the Public Rights Division of the California Attorney General's Office, the Civil Rights Enforcement Section, that is dedicated exclusively to the enforcement of civil rights laws. In January of 1999, the California Attorney General Office's civil rights program was staffed with only two attorneys. The Civil Rights Enforcement Section is now staffed with eight attorneys.
CIVIL RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT SECTION
The Civil Rights Enforcement Section is committed to the strong and vigorous enforcement of civil rights laws. It is committed to taking a proactive approach in identifying civil rights violations that should be redressed by the Attorney General. It is committed to working with the public, state, federal and local government agencies, and with civil rights and community organizations to identify such projects. When civil rights violations are confirmed, the Civil Rights Enforcement Section will endeavor to prosecute those who have violated the law, and will seek the strongest remedies to deter further violations of those laws.
The Civil Rights Enforcement Section provides legal representation to state agencies that are charged with enforcing specific California civil rights laws. The Section provides advice and consultation services to these agencies and represents them before state and federal courts.
These agencies include the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the Fair Employment and Housing Commission, which are responsible for enforcing the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, the Native American Heritage Commission, which is charged with enforcing the Native American Heritage Act that protects Native American burial and sacred sites, and the Commission on the Status of Women, which studies issues affecting women and makes recommendations to the Legislature and Governor regarding the same. The Section also represents the Division of the State Architect on matters relating to the Division's responsibilities respecting state disabled access laws, and the California Department of Housing and Community Development with respect to issues concerning state laws that encourage the building of low and moderate income housing within the State.
In addition to representing these state agencies, the Civil Rights Enforcement Section represents the Attorney General in enforcing civil rights laws that vest the Attorney General with independent enforcement powers. These laws include, but are not limited to, California's Unruh Civil Rights Act, which prohibits arbitrary discrimination by public accommodations, and state laws that guarantee persons with disabilities equal access to public transportation, publicly-funded facilities and buildings and privately-funded public accommodations. Enforcement of these laws is accomplished by conducting investigations and, where necessary, by instituting legal actions. The Section also represents the Attorney General in enforcing the Ralph Civil Rights Act and the Bane Civil Rights Act, which provide civil remedies for hate crimes.
Pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the National Association of Attorneys General and the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice have agreed to work together on affirmative civil rights projects. The Civil Rights Enforcement Section is a member of each of the five task forces created through the MOU. These task forces address disabled access to places of public accommodation, mortgage lending discrimination, housing discrimination, bias-related crimes, and employment. The Section may engage in the initiatives and projects of these task forces.
The Civil Rights Enforcement Section also prepares and files briefs amicus curiae on behalf of client agencies and on behalf of the Attorney General in cases brought by third parties in which significant civil rights issues will be resolved.
Additionally, the Civil Rights Enforcement Section also educates the public about California and federal civil rights laws to ensure that the public is aware of their rights and remedies under those laws. The Section also engages in outreach to the civil rights community and the public to gather information to assist them in identifying appropriate subjects for investigation and/or litigation.
The Civil Rights Enforcement Section also provides advice to the Attorney General on proposed and pending civil rights legislation, and proposes ideas for civil rights legislation. Finally, the Civil Rights Enforcement Section advises the Attorney General on civil rights issues affecting the Department of Justice.
CIVIL RIGHTS HANDBOOK
The Civil Rights Enforcement Section engages in a variety of public education and outreach efforts. This includes developing resource materials such as the latest edition of "Unlawful Discrimination: Your Rights & Remedies," pdf, a civil rights handbook that covers many state and federal civil rights laws. The last previous update of the handbook was in 1990. HTML version
This 74-page handbook provides a practical guide for the public on California and federal civil rights laws. The nine chapters cover such topics as: hate violence, employment, housing, public accommodations, public assistance, education, medical and health care, miscellaneous anti-discrimination statutes, and peace officer misconduct.
Some 20,000 copies have been distributed to State of California libraries, civil rights organizations and the public. The report is available below in HTML format for access by installed voice synthesizer equipment for visually impaired persons. A copy on audio tape or in Braille may be requested from the Attorney General's Public Inquiry Unit.
CIVIL RIGHTS IN EDUCATION
In May 2000, the Attorney General entered into a written settlement agreement with a school district in Northern California that will require the district to make significant changes to its policies and procedures that govern student discipline. The settlement followed an investigation into allegations that a high school within the district had discriminated against a gifted African American student-athlete when it prohibited him from participating on the high school's football team during his senior year. The investigation concluded that the district may have discriminated against the student because of his race, and that the student's due process rights and his right to privacy had been violated by the high school during the course of the disciplinary process.
In Grutter v. University of Michigan and Gratz v. University of Michigan, the California Attorney General joined 20 other state attorneys general in an amicus brief that urged the United States Supreme Court to hold that the goal of achieving a diverse student body is a compelling state interest that justifies consideration of the race of applicants as one of many factors in determining university admissions. The brief further urged the court to uphold the constitutionality of the University of Michigan's affirmative action policies used for its undergraduate and law school programs. On June 23, 2003, the Court held that achieving a diverse student body is a compelling state interest that justifies the use of race as one of many factors in university admissions policies. The Court upheld the constitutionality of the University of Michigan's law school admissions policy, but found that the undergraduate admissions policy's consideration of race was not sufficiently narrowly drawn. As such, that policy was held to violate the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution.
On February 22, 1999, the California Office of the Attorney General and nine other state Attorneys General joined in a brief authored by the Attorneys General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the State of West Virginia in Vaughn Murphy v. United Parcel Service, Inc. before the United States Supreme Court. The brief supported plaintiff's position that, in determining whether someone is disabled for purposes of the Americans With Disabilities Act, ameliorative effects of medication, prosthetic devices, or other mitigating measures should not be considered. Unfortunately, the United States Supreme Court did not adopt this position.
In April 1999, Attorney General Lockyer withdrew amicus support previously given by his predecessor in Olmstead v. L.C. and E.W., a case then pending before the United States Supreme Court. The amicus brief had argued that the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) does not require states to place the mentally disabled in the most integrated environment, and that the Eleventh Amendment bars ADA suits against the states in federal court. In June, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the ADA, under certain circumstances, may require that states place the mentally disabled in the most integrated environment.
In Chabner v. United Mutual of Omaha, the Attorney General filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiff who claims, and prevailed before the lower court, that the defendant insurance carrier violated the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), the Unruh Civil Rights Act, and the California Insurance Code by charging plaintiff a higher premium for life insurance because of plaintiff's disability. Attorney General Lockyer personally presented oral argument to the Ninth Circuit on February 8, 2000. On September 11, 2000, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the ADA did not apply to insurance policies. However, accepting the argument of the Attorney General, the Court held that the insurer's action violated California law.
In October 2000, the Office of the Attorney General concluded an investigation into allegations that improvements made to the Metropolitan Transit Authority's (MTA) East Portal facility at Los Angeles' Union Station did not comply with state disability access laws and regulations. Through a formal settlement agreement with the MTA, significant access improvements were subsequently made to the facility that makes it more accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities.
In April 2001, the Office of the Attorney General concluded an investigation into allegations that, after initially accepting a reservation, a luxury hotel canceled the room reservation of the parents of a little boy who requires 24-hour nursing care. The child was coming to California to see a specialist and to visit Disneyland. Allegedly, the hotel claimed that, by allowing medical staff and equipment in the hotel, it would be violating a City of Beverly Hills ordinance. Later, the hotel reversed itself, but the family had already canceled its travel plans. In a settlement that was just reached, the hotel has agreed to provide training on disability issues to all 300-plus hotel employees, and to adopt written policies respecting the hotel's treatment of persons with disabilities who seek to use its facilities.
Urging Better Local Compliance, pdf. On December 23, 2002, the Office of the Attorney General issued a letter to all District Attorneys, City Attorneys and County Counsel urging them to join him in a renewed and concerted effort to gain better compliance with and to improve enforcement of California disabled access laws.
Urging Reasonable Accommodation Ordinances, pdf. On May 15, 2001, the Office of the Attorney General issued a letter urging local governments to consider enacting an ordinance to provide a special procedure for processing "reasonable accommodation" applications made by persons with disabilities who seek relief from local land use and zoning laws in order to fully enjoy the use of housing accommodations. This letter was sent to the mayor of every incorporated city and the chair of every county board of supervisors in the State of California.
Reminder to Local Building Officials,pdf. On April 29, 2002, the Office of the Attorney General issued a letter to all local building officials in California that reminds these officials of their statutory obligation to enforce California's access laws and regulations, and urges them to vigorously enforce those laws and regulations.
Reminding Local Governments of Open Meetings Compliance, pdf. On April 23, 2002, the Office of the Attorney General issued a letter to all cities and counties that reminds them of their obligation under the Brown Open Meeting Act, Government Code section 54961 et seq., to hold their meetings in facilities that are accessible to all Californians.
On December 5, 2002, the Office of the Attorney General entered into a settlement agreement with Southern California Regional Rail Authority over disabled access violations involving Metrolink, the commuter rail network serving Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties. The settlement means improvements in service to enable visually impaired Californians to more safely use Metrolink to get to work, to school and for everyday travel. Under the agreement, all 98 Metrolink ticket vending machines at all 51 stations will be retrofitted with raised lettering, Braille instructions and tactile graphics and trails to improve access for visually-impaired commuters.
On December 23, 2002, the Office of the Attorney General issued a letter to all District Attorneys, City Attorneys and County Counsel urging them to join him in a renewed and concerted effort to gain better compliance with and to improve enforcement of California disabled access laws.
On September 15, 2003, the Office of the Attorney General secured the first ever court order to compel a local jurisdiction to meets its mandatory duty to enforce California's disabled access laws and regulations. The Attorney General simultaneously filed a complaint and petition for writ of mandate, stipulation for entry of judgment and stipulated judgment in this case to resolve his investigation into the County of Marin's alleged failure to meet its statutory duty to enforce state disabled access laws and regulations. The case is titled People of the State of California ex rel. Lockyer v. County of Marin Board of Supervisors. Under the terms of the judgment, the County is enjoined to submit the following plans for the Attorney General's approval and, following his approval, implement: 1) a procedure to timely investigate and resolve citizen complaints; 2) a procedure for processing applications for exceptions to state disabled access laws and regulations; 3) a plan for training those county officials responsible for access law enforcement; and 4) a plan to systematically evaluate and audit the County's enforcement of these laws and regulations. These plans and procedures must be submitted within 120 days. The judgment also orders the County to correct all access violations alleged in the complaint within six months, to pay the cost of a consultant retained by the Attorney General in monitoring the County's compliance with the judgment, and to pay $40,000 for costs and attorney's fees incurred in the Attorney General's investigation. The injunction is to remain in effect for three years, but may be extended for good cause shown by the Attorney General.
On November 25, 2003, the Attorney General filed a petition for writ of mandate, stipulation for entry of judgment and stipulated judgment to resolve his investigation into the City of Del Mar's failure to meet its statutory duty to enforce State disabled access laws and regulations. Under the terms of the judgment entered in this case, People of the State of California ex rel. Lockyer v. City of Del Mar City Council, the City of Del Mar is enjoined to submit the following plans to the Attorney General for approval and, following that approval, implement them: 1) a procedure to timely investigate and resolve disability access complaints from citizens; 2) a procedure for processing applications for exceptions to state disabled access laws and regulations; 3) a plan to train those responsible for access law enforcement; and 4) a plan to systematically evaluate and audit the City's enforcement of these laws and regulations. The City is also enjoined, within six months of entry of judgment, to either establish a building department or contract for the services of a building official to enforce state disabled access laws and regulations, and correct all access violations alleged in the Attorney General's petition. The City is also required to pay the cost of a consultant (capped at $40,000 for a two-year period) who will assist the Attorney General in monitoring the City's compliance with the judgment, and pay $15,000 to reimburse this office's costs and attorney's fees incurred in our investigation. The injunction is to remain in effect for two years, but may be extended for good cause shown by the Attorney General.
On January 26, 2004, the Office of the Attorney General filed a complaint and petition for writ of mandate to enjoin the Mill Valley City Council and its building department to meet their mandatory duty to enforce state disabled access laws and regulations. The filing of this action, People of the State of California, ex rel Lockyer v. City Council of Mill Valley, follows a lengthy investigation which documented numerous disabled access violations at both publicly owned buildings and facilities and privately owned public accommodations located in Mill Valley. It is alleged in the petition and complaint that the defendants' failure to meet their mandatory duty to enforce state disabled access laws and regulations is due to defective or inadequate policies, practices and procedures for preventing and correcting violations, and the failure to provide adequate training on these laws to employees who are charged with enforcing them. It is further alleged that citizen complaints alleging access violations are not adequately investigated by the City, and that the City does not take action to correct confirmed violations within 90 days as required by state law. On March 2, 2004, the Attorney General secured a Stipulated Judgment ordering relief similar to that obtained in the Marin County and City of Del Mar cases noted above.
On August 25, 2004, the Office of the Attorney General entered into a settlement agreement with the University of Southern California following an investigation into the allegation that none of the University's vans, buses or other vehicles which it operates are equipped with wheelchair lifts. The Attorney General concluded that some elements of the University's transportation services did not comply with state and federal accessibility laws and regulations. Under the agreement, the University was required to: (1) meet a time-table to ensure that its entire fleet of 17 on-campus trams be equipped with wheelchair lifts or ramps; (2) to acquire a wheelchair accessible vehicle by September 2004 for its Campus Cruiser program which escorts students, faculty and staff to various on-campus locations during the evening hours; and (3) to promptly acquire a wheelchair accessible van for its commuter van pool program when an individual with a disability applies to participate in and is eligible for the program. The settlement also required the University to advertise, on its website and in other written materials, the accessibility of these transportation systems, the options available to individuals with disabilities, and where complaints about the accessibility of these systems can be lodged. Further, the University was required to pay the Attorney General the sum of $20,000 for attorney's fees.
On September 28, 2004, the Office of the Attorney General entered into a settlement agreement with the County of Sacramento to improve the accessibility of its parking lot shuttle bus service at Sacramento International Airport. An investigation that preceded the settlement concluded that bus lifts often did not function properly and that there was a pattern of serious neglect in getting non-functioning lifts repaired. The regular failure of lifts seriously impacted the ability of persons who use wheelchairs to access the buses. Under the terms of the settlement, the County was required to take specified actions to ensure that passengers with disabilities have full and equal access to the parking-shuttle buses. The County also was required to pay for a monitor who will oversee the County's compliance with the agreement, and to reimburse the Attorney General for the cost of this investigation.
In December 2004, the California Office of the Attorney General joined in an amicus brief filed by the Attorney General of Texas, and joined in by the States of Arizona, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, Utah and Washington in the case entitled Spector v. Norwegian Cruise Line, Ltd. In this case, the amici States urge the United States Supreme Court to hold that Title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act applies to foreign-flag cruise ships who sail into U.S. waters, dock at American ports, and pick up American passengers.
FAIR EMPLOYMENT AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT
In January of 1999, Attorney General Lockyer withdrew amicus brief support previously given by his predecessor in Codger v. Board of Regents of the State of Tennessee (on petition for writ of certiorari), a case in which amici states had argued that the Eleventh Amendment bars Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) cases brought against a state.
On September 15, 1999, the Office of the Attorney General filed an amicus brief in Armendariz v. Foundation Health Psychare Services, a case in which the California Supreme Court will determine whether employment agreements that require the mandatory arbitration of employment discrimination claims that may be brought under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) are enforceable. In his brief, the Attorney General urges the state high court to hold that such agreements are unenforceable and are contrary to public policy. The Attorney General argues that upholding such agreements will prevent employees from pursuing their court and administrative remedies under the FEHA, thus undermining public enforcement of this important anti-discrimination statute. In August 2000, the California Supreme Court ruled that, while such agreements do not violate public policy, they must meet certain strict requirements to be enforceable.
On July 2, 1999, the Office of the Attorney General filed an amicus brief in the California Supreme Court in support of the plaintiff in Carrisales v. Department of Corrections. In that case, the Court of Appeal held that a non-supervisory coworker who sexually harasses another coworker cannot be held personally liable for such harassment under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The California Supreme Court has granted the petition for review that was filed by the plaintiffs. The brief argued that the Court of Appeal was wrong and that the FEHA does impose personal liability on a coworker who harasses another coworker even though the harasser is not a supervisory employee. Unfortunately, on December 9, 1999, the Court issued an opinion holding otherwise. Legislation to overturn this decision was subsequently enacted.
On September 19, 2000, the Attorney General filed an amicus brief in Circuit City v. Adams in the United States Supreme Court. In that case, the Ninth Circuit had held that the Federal Arbitration Act does not apply to contracts of employment and, therefore, a state employment discrimination claim could not be subjected to arbitration under that act. The brief urged the Court to uphold the Ninth Circuit's decision. The states of Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia joined in this brief. On March 21, 2001, the United States Supreme Court issued a 5-4 opinion holding that the Federal Arbitration Act applies to contracts of employment.
In May 2001, the California Office of the Attorney General joined in an amicus brief authored by the Attorney General of Missouri and filed in the United States Supreme Court in Equal Opportunity Employment Commission v. Waffle House, Inc. The issue in this case is whether the agreement of a victim of employment discrimination to arbitrate his or her claim of discrimination bars the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) from bringing an enforcement action seeking victim-specific monetary remedies such as back pay and damages against the relevant employer. On January 15, 2002, the Court held that private agreements to arbitrate employment discrimination claims do not bar the EEOC from seeking such victim-specific remedies.
On March 21, 2002, the Office of the Attorney General filed an amicus brief in Colmenares v. Braemar Country Club in the California Supreme Court. In this case, the Court will determine whether recent legislative amendments, effective January 1, 2001, defining the term "physical disability," are to be applied prospectively or were merely declaratory of existing law in the Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA") (Gov. Code, § 12900 et seq.). Specifically, the Prudence Poppink Act (Stats. 2000, ch. 1049, § 5), which amended the FEHA, defines "physical disability" to limit a major life activity but does not require the "substantial limitation" standard imposed by the federal Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") (42 U.S.C., §12101 et seq.). The Attorney General's brief supports plaintiff's position that the Poppink Act amendments merely codified the existing definition of the term "physical disability" under the FEHA.
On April 9, 2002, the Office of the Attorney General filed an amicus brief in the California Court of Appeal in Salazar v. Diversified Paratransit. In his brief the Attorney General supported the plaintiff's position that, under certain circumstances, an employer may be held liable under the FEHA for harassment of an employee by a client or customer. The Court of Appeal, in a 2-1 decision, held that harassment by customers and clients is not covered by the FEHA. The California Supreme Court has agreed to hear this case. On July 7, 2003, the Office of the Attorney General filed a brief with the California Supreme Court again advancing the legal position that employers are liable under the FEHA for harassment of their employees by clients or customers. Subsequently, the Legislature enacted legislation, supported the Office of the Attorney General, which clarified that the FEHA does cover harassment by customers and clients. The Supreme Court then remanded the case to the Court of Appeal to consider the effect of the passage of this legislation. On March 30, 2004, the Court of Appeal agreed with the Attorney General that the legislation made it clear that harassment by customers and clients was covered even prior to the enactment of the legislation.
On September 29, 2004, the Office of the Attorney General secured a published decision from California Court of Appeal in Gemini Aluminum Corp. v. Fair Employment and Housing Commission that upholds the administrative decision and order of the California Fair Employment Housing Commission in a case where an employer refused to provide a religious accommodation to a Jehovah's witness who sought leave from his employment to attend a religious convention sponsored by his church. He was fired by his employer after he attended the convention following the denial of his request for a leave of absence. The trial court ruled in favor of the employer, but the Office of the Attorney General secured a reversal of that decision from the appellate court. The Court of Appeal agreed with the Commission that the employer violated the Fair Employment and Housing Act when it refused to grant the employee leave to attend the convention.
In August of 1999, the Attorney General issued a Rapid Response Protocol, pdf to assist in the investigation, identification, arrest, prosecution and conviction of those who commit hate crimes. The protocol will ensure an immediate deployment of California Department of Justice resources when a hate crime occurs involving serious injury, death or significant destruction of property. Department resources to be made available to assist local and federal law enforcement agencies include: forensic services, intelligence specialists, profilers, criminal and civil rights attorneys, and support for victims of hate crimes.
The Attorney General has available brochures in nine languages on how to identify hate crimes, how to report hate crimes and the services available to victims of hate crimes.
In early 2000, the Office of the Attorney General created the Attorney General's Civil Rights Commission on Hate Crimes, pdf. Co-chairing the commission were nationally-recognized police practices expert and former Chief of Police for the City of San Jose, Joseph McNamara, and actor and community activist, Edward James Olmos. Nationally recognized civil rights leader Fred Korematsu served as honorary chair. The Attorney General asked the Commission to explore the problem of under-reporting of hate crimes. Both law enforcement agencies and civil rights groups believe that many hate crimes go unreported. The Commission held nearly two dozen regional meetings throughout the state to gather information to assist it in developing recommendations on how this problem can be solved. The Commission issued its final report to the Attorney General on March 29, 2001. This report contains detailed findings as to the causes of under-reporting and makes 16 recommendations on how to improve the reporting of hate crimes.
In order to educate the public and law enforcement authorities about hate crimes, the Office of the Attorney General held a hate crime conference on May 18, 2000, at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. At this conference, panels of experts addressed several issues related to the problem of hate crimes. The Attorney General also unveiled the Hate Crimes Prototype Database, an investigative tool that will help local law enforcement agencies in California to more effectively track and solve hate crimes.
On August 9, 2002, the Office of the Attorney General filed an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court in Virginia v. Black. This case addresses the constitutionality of Virginia's "cross-burning" statute, which prohibits the burning of a cross on public or private property, if done with the intent to intimidate any person. On April 7, 2003, the Court issued its decision and held that a state statute that prohibits cross burning committed with the intent to intimidate does not violate the First Amendment. This holding is consistent with the position advanced in the Attorney General's brief. However, the Court also held that Virginia's statute is unconstitutional because it contains a provision that treats any cross-burning as prima facie evidence of intent to intimidate.
The Attorney General's Civil Rights Enforcement Section participates, on an ongoing basis, in the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations' Network Against Hate Crime, the Orange County Human Relations' Hate Crime Network, the Bay Area Hate Crime Investigators' Association, the San Diego Regional Hate Crimes Coalition, and the Greater Sacramento Area Hate Crimes Task Force. Generally, these task forces meet on a quarterly basis. Through these task forces, the Attorney General helps to educate communities about hate crimes and how to prevent and respond to them.
The Attorney General's Civil Rights Enforcement Section has actively engaged in the training of law enforcement personnel and community organizations and their members on hate crime laws and prevention.
In August 1999, the Office of the Attorney General obtained a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prohibit a Walnut Creek landlord from refusing to allow two disabled tenants to install air conditioners considered necessary because of their medical conditions. Doctors for the tenants had determined that, for health and safety reasons, the tenants' apartments had to be cooled to temperatures that could not be maintained without the installation of the window air conditioners.
In Thomas v. City of Anchorage, et al. , the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that City of Anchorage and State of Alaska laws that prohibit discrimination against unmarried couples cannot be enforced against landlords who, for religious reasons, refuse to rent to unmarried cohabiting couples. On January 28, 1999, the Office of the Attorney General filed an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit in support of the State of Alaska's request for rehearing and its suggestion for a hearing en banc. The states of Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington joined in that brief. When a hearing en banc was granted, the Attorney General filed a second amicus brief. Both briefs argue that the landlords' religious beliefs must yield to the relevant fair housing laws. The Ninth Circuit, while not reaching the merits of the case, issued an opinion in which it dismissed the landlords' complaint.
In Konig v. Fair Employment & Housing Commission, the Office of the Attorney General defended the state law that empowers California's fair housing agency to award damages for emotional distress suffered by victims of housing discrimination. The trial court held this statute unconstitutional. The Court of Appeal affirmed. The Office of the Attorney General successfully petitioned the State's high court to hear this case. On July 29, 2002, the Court reversed the lower courts and held that the Commission may, without violating the California Constitution, award damages for emotional distress to victims of housing discrimination.
In Department of Fair Employment and Housing v. Superior Court of Stanislaus County, the Attorney General represented the Department of Fair Employment and Housing in an action brought to compel compliance with an investigatory subpoena issued by the Department in a housing discrimination (race and marital status) case. The subject of the investigation, the respondent, objected to the subpoena, which sought tenant and applicant records, on the grounds that disclosure of rental records would violate the rights of third parties. The trial court agreed with the respondent. The Attorney General filed a petition for writ of mandate in the California Court of Appeal to compel the trial court to set aside its order and to order the respondent to comply with the subpoena. In a published opinion, the Court of Appeal reversed the trial court and held that the right to privacy did not bar production of the rental records.
On September 9, 2004, the Office of the Attorney General secured a published decision from the California Court of Appeal in Auburn Woods I Homeowners Assn. v. Fair Employment and Housing Commission. In this case, a homeowners association refused to grant an accommodation from its "no dogs" rule to a couple who required a companion animal, a dog, to treat their clinical depression. The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court that had overturned the Commission's decision holding that the homeowners association violated the Fair Employment and Housing Act by refusing to grant the request for an accommodation. This is the first case decided under California law to hold that a homeowners association may have to modify its "no dogs" rule to reasonably accommodate a person with a mental disability by allowing that person to keep a companion animal in his unit.
HOUSING - AFFORDABLE
On March 25, 2002, the Office of the Attorney General entered into a settlement agreement to conclude an investigation of a redevelopment agency that used monies from its low and moderate income housing fund for purposes not authorized by law. Pursuant to the settlement, the redevelopment agency has repaid almost $800,000 to its low and moderate income housing fund.
On October 3, 2001, the Civil Rights Enforcement Section, on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General, filed two civil actions to combat immigration consultant fraud. These cases are entitled People of the State of California, ex rel. Bill Lockyer v. Immigration Solution Center ("ISC") and People ex rel. Bill Lockyer v. Immigration World Wide Services, Inc. ("IWWS"). Both complaints seek civil penalties, restitution, injunctive and other relief and allege claims under the Business and Professions Code, including violations of the Immigration Consultants Act, unlawful business practices, and untrue or misleading representations.
In September 2003, in People of the State of California, ex rel. Lockyer v. Immigration World Wide Services, the Office of the Attorney General secured stipulated judgments against eight individual defendants and the defendant business in this immigration consultant fraud case. The owner is enjoined to close the business 90 days from date of entry of judgment. The closing will be overseen by a monitor selected by this office and paid for by the owner. The judgment details the manner in which the business is to be closed, and includes: (1) a requirement that the owner notify approximately 5,500 former clients of the date on which the business is to be closed; (2) that all balances owed on client contracts entered into between January 1, 1998 and December 31, 2001, are canceled; and (3) that former clients may retrieve their original files maintained by the business. The notification is to be accomplished by both individual letters to these clients and by publication of a notice in Los Angeles' major Spanish language newspaper, La Opinion. Following closure of the business, the owner and the business are prohibited from in any way participating in the immigration consulting business for a period of two years. The owner and his business are also permanently required to comply with all applicable laws. The other settling defendants, including two attorneys and five non-attorneys, are permanently required to comply with all applicable laws, and ordered to pay restitution to nine victims who came forward; civil penalties; attorney's fees and costs totaling $26,000. The attorney defendants are also required to perform community service work. Lastly, the owner is prohibited from collecting $280,000 in accounts receivable from victims.
In September 2003, in People ex rel. Lockyer v. Immigration Solutions Center, the Office of the Attorney General secured stipulated judgments against two attorney defendants and four non-attorney defendants in this immigration consultant fraud case. The settling defendants are ordered to pay restitution to 15 victims who came forward; civil penalties; attorney's fees and costs totaling $169,000. All defendants are permanently required to comply with the Immigration Consultant Act, and California laws regulating lawyer referral services and prohibiting the unlicensed practice of law. One of the attorney defendants is also required to perform community service work. A six-day trial against the business and its owner was held in October 2003, in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. On March 1, 2004, the Court issued a judgment against the business and its owner that awarded $479,000 in civil penalties and broad injunctive relief to curb their unlawful business practices.Since October 3, 2001, the Attorney General has filed a total of over 28 civil actions throughout California to combat immigration consultant fraud. These cases were filed the Counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, Fresno, Madera, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin.
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
On August 2, 2002, the Office of the Attorney General filed an amicus brief in DVD Copy Control, Inc. v. Bunner. The issue presented in this case now before the California Supreme Court is whether a preliminary injunction issued under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA) may, consistent with the freedom of speech clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, prohibit the posting of a decryption program (DeCSS) on the Internet. This computer program breaks an encryption code (CSS) placed on DVDs. The decryption program allows for the unauthorized copying and viewing of DVDs. The decryption code contains CSS which plaintiffs contend is a trade secret that was unlawfully misappropriated by a third party. The Attorney General's amicus brief argues that the trial court correctly determined that plaintiff had established the requisite elements for an injunction under the UTSA and, more specifically, that the status of the trade secret had not been destroyed due to its publication on the Internet, and that the act of creating DeCSS is not a form of reverse engineering that the UTSA exempts from its coverage. The brief also argues that the injunction prohibiting publication of DeCSS on the Internet should be reviewed under an intermediate scrutiny standard because the unique properties of computer code make DeCSS "mixed" speech with functional and expressive elements, and that the injunction withstands intermediate scrutiny because of the significant governmental interests in protecting trade secrets and combating content piracy. On May 29, 2003, Attorney General Lockyer personally appeared before the Court and presented oral argument. On August 25, 2003, the California Supreme Court, in a unanimous opinion, agreed with the Attorney General's position and held that injunctions may be issued under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act to prohibit the positing of trade secrets on the Internet without violating the First Amendment.
OFFICE OF IMMIGRANT ASSISTANCE
On March 9, 2001, the Office of the Attorney General announced the creation of the Office of Immigrant Assistance. The Office, which operates out of the Civil Rights Enforcement Section, is an outreach and education project whose goals are to reach and educate immigrant communities about state laws, and to break down barriers that make immigrants reluctant to report both criminal and civil law violations to law enforcement agencies including the California Department of Justice. To date, the Office of Immigrant Assistance has published the brochure "Immigration Services: Protecting Your Consumer Rights" in English, Spanish, Armenian, Hmong, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean, as well as the brochure "Preventing Hate Crime: What We Can Do!" in English, Spanish, Armenian, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Arabic, Punjabi and Hindi.
In January 1999, the Office of the Attorney General issued a new policy governing the review of complaints, pdf received by the Department of Justice that allege police misconduct by local law enforcement agencies or their employees. Complaints that have exhausted the local review process will be referred to both the Criminal Law Division and the Civil Rights Enforcement Section for review and appropriate action.
In the late spring of 1999, after concluding that the four officers who were involved in the shooting death of Tyisha Miller in Riverside, California, should not be criminally charged, the Attorney General launched what is believed to be the first civil investigation of a local law enforcement agency ever conducted by his office. On March 5, 2001, the Office of the Attorney General filed a complaint and stipulated judgment in People of the State of California, etc. v. City of Riverside, Riverside County Superior Court Case No. 355410. This stipulated judgment resolved a nearly two-year civil rights investigation into the practices and policies of the City of Riverside Police Department. It is believed that this is the first consent decree to reform a local police department ever secured by a state attorney general under state law. The judgment, which will remain in effect for a period of five years, requires the Riverside Police Department to implement reforms in areas of training, supervision, and accountability. The City of Riverside will be required to pay the cost of a consultant to assist the Attorney General in monitoring compliance with the terms of the judgment.
In Hi-Voltage Wire Works, Inc. v. City of San Jose (2000) 24 Cal.4th 537, the California Supreme Court held that the City of San Jose's MBE/WBE program violates Proposition 209, California Constitution, article I, section 31, which prohibits, among other things, "preferences" in public employment. San Jose's program requires that prime contractors either (1) document that they would be using the number of MBE/WBE subcontractors on a project that would be expected in the absence of discrimination; or (2) document that they had contacted and at least attempted to negotiate with four MBE/WBE subcontractors in each appropriate trade area identified for a project. The Supreme Court held that both of these requirements violate Proposition 209. The Office of the Attorney General filed an amicus brief supporting the constitutionality of focused or targeted recruitment or outreach programs, and personally presented oral argument to the Court.
In East Bay Asian Local Development Corp., et al. v. State of California, Office of the Attorney General successfully defended an action for declaratory and injunctive relief brought against the State to invalidate state law that exempts, under certain circumstances, noncommercial property owned by religious organizations from local historic landmark ordinances. Plaintiffs contended, among other things, that the relevant statutes unconstitutionally establish religion. The trial court declared these statutes unconstitutional. The case ultimately reached the California Supreme Court, where a Section deputy presented oral argument. On December 21, 2000, the Court upheld the constitutionality of the relevant statutes. The Court reasoned the Legislature may exempt religious organizations from historic landmark ordinances to avoid potential free exercise clause violations. Plaintiffs filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court, which the Court subsequently denied.
On April 7, 2005, the Office of the Attorney General filed an amicus brief in Barnes-Wallace v. City of San Diego in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal. In this brief, he supports the plaintiffs' position that the City of San Diego's long-term leases of public parkland to the Boy Scouts violate the federal Establishment Clause and California's "no preference," "no aid" constitutional provisions which prohibit the government from endorsing or providing benefits to religion. The 25-year leases at issue authorize the Boy Scouts to operate two prime parcels of parkland for a nominal fee. The leases resulted from exclusive negotiations with the Boy Scouts. No other entity was invited to bid for the leases of the subject properties. The leases allow the Boy Scouts to use portions of the leased properties for scouting events even though the Boy Scouts exclude from its membership and activities boys who will not affirm a belief in God. The Attorney General's brief argues that the leases must be examined under the Establishment Clause and California's comparable provisions because the requirement that members affirm a belief in God constitutes a creed and a religious practice. Additionally, the brief argues that, because these federal and state constitutional provisions apply, the city is required, at a minimum, to engage in a good faith and open solicitation process that invites the general public to bid on the leases for these properties. The brief also argues that if an open solicitation process was not used by the city, the leases at issue are unconstitutional.
REPATRIATION OF NATIVE AMERICAN REMAINS
In furtherance of California public policy that promotes repatriation of Native American remains, the Attorney General, on May 26, 1999, filed suit in the San Mateo County Superior Court to authorize the removal of Ishi's remains from the dedicated cemetery where they had been resting. Ishi was believed to be the last of the Yahi Indians. California Native Americans had been seeking to retrieve and reinter the remains of Ishi that were held in the Smithsonian Institution and a cemetery in California.(Lockyer, et al. v. Olivet Memorial Park, et al., Redding Rancheria and Pit River Tribe, Real Parties and Interest. On April 12, 2000, the court issued an order authorizing removal of Ishi's remains from the cemetery and into the possession of representatives of two California tribes for appropriate disposition in accordance with Native American traditions.
The Attorney General also joined in an amicus brief authored by New York Attorney General in Hill v. State of Colorado. The issue in that case was whether a Colorado statute that restricts access to persons entering healthcare facilities violates the First Amendment. The brief argued that the statute is constitutional.
In an action brought in federal district court, Sanctity of Human Life Network, et al. v. Lockyer, et al., plaintiffs have challenged the constitutionality of SB 780. SB 780 added the California Freedom of Access to Clinic and Church Entrances Act and the Reproductive Rights Law Enforcement Act to the Penal Code, effective January 1, 2002. Among other things, SB 780, which is modeled after existing federal law, sets forth criminal penalties for intentionally injuring or intimidating any reproductive health services client, provider or assistant, by force, threat of force or physical obstruction that is a crime of violence. SB 780 further provides that, to the extent the Legislature appropriates funds, the Attorney General shall collect information relating to anti-reproductive rights crimes, including the persons suspected of committing these crimes, and shall submit reports to the Legislature analyzing this information. Plaintiffs allege that SB 780 is unconstitutionally vague, is facially overly broad as the law could purportedly violate their freedom of speech, and that the provisions relating to data collection and reporting by the Attorney General could deprive plaintiffs of due process and their privacy rights. Plaintiffs assert causes of action under the United States and California Constitutions and under the "taxpayer action" provisions of the California Code of Civil Procedure. The Office of the Attorney General filed a motion to dismiss this action. In December 2002, the district court denied plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction, granted the Attorney General's motion to dismiss and entered judgment for the defendants.
On January 25, 2005, the Office of the Attorney General filed an action against the federal government challenging an abortion-related spending restriction that could deny California agencies, including the Department of Education, more than $49 billion in federal funds. The restriction, known as the Weldon Amendment, could deny all federal funds from the Departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services to any State that discriminates against an individual or institutional health care entity on the basis that it "does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions." The complaint alleges the Weldon Amendment violates women's constitutional right to seek emergency abortion care, exceeds Congress' power under the Spending Clause of the U.S. Constitution, and infringes on state sovereignty in violation of the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The complaint seeks a declaration that the Amendment is unconstitutional and a permanent injunction against its enforcement, or, in the alternative, a declaration that enforcement of state laws requiring provision of emergency medical services, including abortion care, does not violate the amendment. The case, pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California is entitled State of California, et al. v. United States of America, et al.
SEXUAL ORIENTATION DISCRIMINATION
On February 17, 1999, Attorney General Lockyer withdrew his predecessor's amicus brief support in the Hawaii Supreme Court in Baehr v. Miike. The amicus brief that was filed argued that Hawaii should not sanction same-sex marriage because it would cause discord with other states.
In 2000, the Attorney General joined in an amicus brief authored and filed by the New York Attorney General in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, a case in which the Boy Scouts are asking the United States Supreme Court to reverse the decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court that upheld the application of New Jersey's state law that prohibits discrimination by public accommodations to the Boy Scouts. The Boy Scouts seek to establish the right to exclude gay males from membership in that organization on the grounds that such exclusion is protected by the right to freedom of association under the First Amendment. The amicus brief supports the position that application of the subject law to the Boy Scouts is not precluded by the First Amendment. The states of Hawaii, Maryland, Oklahoma, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington also joined in this brief. Unfortunately, in a 5-4 decision, the high court ruled in favor of the Boy Scouts.
On December 8, 2004, the Office of the Attorney General filed an amicus brief in support of plaintiffs in the California Supreme Court in Koepke v. Bernardo Heights Country Club. At issue in this case is whether the Country Club violated the Unruh Civil Rights Act by refusing to grant a family membership to a lesbian couple who are registered domestic partners under California law. In this brief, the Attorney General argues that treating registered domestic partners differently from married couples in the provision of any accommodation, advantage, facility, privilege or service by a business establishment, without a legitimate business reason for such differentiation, is a violation of the Unruh Act. We further argue that the Unruh Act protects registered domestic partners from being treated differently from married couples by business establishments, and that there is no legitimate interest in refusing to offer membership benefits to registered domestic partners on the same basis as they are offered to married couples.
The California Office of the Attorney General joined the Attorneys General of 30 other states in urging the United States Supreme Court to hear the case of United States v. Morrison regarding the federal Violence Against Women Act. A federal appellate court earlier held that the law is unconstitutional because Congress exceeded its authority to regulate interstate commerce. In an amicus curiae brief, the Attorneys General urged the United States Supreme Court to reverse the appellate court ruling and uphold the constitutionality of this important federal law that was passed to address the widespread incidence of violence against women. On September 28, 1999, the United States Supreme Court agreed to decide this matter.
Women's Rights Handbook (1998), or
pdf (305 pages)
Provides the general public with a basic understanding of the rights of women in California. The handbook describes both California and federal laws that deal with issues important to most women.
A state law (AB 1889), effective January 1, 2001, generally prohibits anyone or any entity, governmental or private, from using state funds to support or oppose union organizing. Recipients of state funds are required to keep records that establish compliance with this law. The law provides for both Attorney General and private enforcement. However, a private party must file a "notice" with the Attorney General stating its intention to file an action. The Attorney General has 60 days after receipt of this notice to file an action. After expiration of this 60-day period, the private party may proceed on its own. The Civil Rights Enforcement Section has been charged with the responsibility for enforcing this new law. In late 2000, several business organizations filed a declaratory and injunctive relief action challenging the constitutionality of this law in federal district court. The Attorney General vigorously defended this action. After failing to get the district court to issue a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction, plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their facial challenge to the new law. On April 11, 2002, a new action challenging the constitutionality of AB 1889 was filed by, among others, the United States Chamber of Commerce. In January 2003, the district court held that AB 1889 is unconstitutional because it is preempted by the federal National Labor Relations Act. The Office of the Attorney Generalappealed this judgment and continues to defend the constitutionality of AB 1889 in United States Chamber of Commerce, et al. v. Lockyer, et al. On April 20, 2004, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court. On May 18, 2004, the Attorney General filed a Petition for Rehearing En Banc.
On December 18, 2001, the Attorney General filed an amicus brief in Valenzuela v. Carpenters Contractors Cooperation Committee in the California Court of Appeal. Carpenters Contractors Cooperation Committee (CCCC) is a private nonprofit organization that monitors public works projects for compliance with state and federal wage laws. Plaintiff Valenzuela Engineering sued CCCC pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 17200, alleging that CCCC had committed an unfair business practice when it conducted investigations regarding Valenzuela Engineering without a license. Plaintiff claimed CCCC did so in violation of the Private Investigator Act (PIA), Business and Professions Code sections 7512-7573, which requires that private investigators be licensed. The trial court granted the CCCC's Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) motion and dismissed this action. Plaintiff appealed. The Attorney General's brief argues that the SLAPP motion was properly granted and that the PIA does not apply to entities such as CCCC. Following the full briefing of this matters, the parties reached a settlement and the appeal was dismissed.
WORLD WAR II SLAVE LABOR, HOLOCAUST & ARMENIAN GENOCIDE CLAIMS
The Office of the Attorney General has been involved actively in defending the rights of victims of forced and slave labor during World War II, the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide to pursue claims against businesses that profited from the labor, deaths or injuries of the workers. The Attorney General has filed various "friend of the court" briefs and presented oral arguments in court to defend California laws intended to help these victims. The California Code of Civil Procedure section 354.6 extends the statute of limitations for claims brought for wages and injuries of persons who were forced to work for companies in Nazi Germany or its allies during World War II. Numerous claims were filed in state and federal court under the law. Many of these claims were consolidated in federal court in the Northern District of California as In Re: World War II Era Japanese Forced Labor Litigation.
The constitutionality of the state law was challenged by several corporations being sued. The Attorney General filed amicus briefs in Kim v. Ishikawajima, et al., defending the validity of the law. In January 2003, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court ruling that invalidated the state law. The Ninth Circuit decision was appealed to the United States Supreme Court and, on August 4, 2003, the California Attorney General filed a brief urging the high court to hear the case. Unfortunately, the high court refused to hear the case.
The Attorney General filed similar amicus briefs last year in two other cases that have reached the California Court of Appeal: Taiheiyo v. Superior Court (formerly Jeong v. Onoda Cement Co. Ltd.) and Mitsubishi v. Superior Court (Dillman). On January 15, 2003, the Court of Appeal in Taiheiyo unanimously upheld the constitutionality of Code of Civil Procedure section 354.6. In Mitsubishi, the Court of Appeal reached an opposite conclusion and held that plaintiffs' claims are barred. On April 20, 2003, the California Supreme Court agreed to hear both of these cases. However, on September 24, 2003, the Supreme Court ordered that these two cases be remanded to the Court of Appeal for reconsideration of the United States Supreme Court's decision in light of American Ins. Assn. v. Garamendi (June 23, 2003) __U.S.__ [123 S.Ct. 2374]. In both of these cases, the Court of Appeal determined that the U.S. Supreme Court decision required them to hold that Code of Civil Procedure section 354.6 is unconstitutional.
The Office of the Attorney General also filed an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Deutsch v. Turner Corporation. At issue in this case is the constitutionality of California Code of Civil Procedure section 354.6, which extends the statute of limitations for claims for unpaid wages and injury suffered by persons who were forced to work for little or no pay for private companies in Nazi Germany and its allies during World War II. The plaintiff is a Holocaust survivor who was forced to work for a private German corporation as a slave laborer during World War II. In the amicus brief, the Attorney General argues that section 354.6 does not violate the Due Process or Foreign Commerce Clauses of the U.S. Constitution, does not raise political questions that are nonjusticiable, and that the statute does not interfere with the foreign affairs powers reserved to the federal government. On January 21, 2003, the Ninth Circuit upheld the district court's holding that Code of Civil Procedure section 354.6 is unconstitutional.
The Office of the Attorney General also filed amicus briefs in Gerling Global Reins. Corp. of America v. Low, 240 F.3d 739, 753 (9th Cir. 2001) (Gerling) and in Gerling Global Reins. Corp. of America v. Low, Nos. 01-17023 and 01-17433. These Gerling cases address the constitutionality of the Holocaust Victim Insurance Relief Act (HVIRA), Insurance Code sections 13800-13807. The Attorney General argues that the HVIRA is constitutional. On January 10, 2003, the United States Supreme Court agreed to review the decision of the Ninth Circuit. On June 23, 2003, the Court held that HVIRA is unconstitutional.
Lastly, the Attorney General also filed an amicus brief in Marootian et al. v. New York Life Insurance Co., 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22274 (Bankr. C.D. Cal. 2001), supporting the validity of Code of Civil Procedure section 354.4, which extends the limitations period for the filing of insurance claims by victims of the Armenian Genocide.
In 1999, the Office of the Attorney General was a co-sponsor of AB 1670. AB 1670 was an omnibus civil rights bill that made significant changes to California's civil rights laws that will help combat discrimination in a variety of areas.
In 2000, the Office of the Attorney General sponsored AB 2719 which strengthened California's Bane Civil Rights Act by removing the requirement that discriminatory intent be established in order to maintain a claim under this law. This bill also strengthened the Ralph Civil Rights Act by giving authority to the Attorney General and district and city attorneys to seek a civil penalty of $25,000, payable to the person whose rights under this law have been violated, in any civil action they institute to enforce this law.
In 2001, the Office of the Attorney General sponsored AB 587 which became effective on January 1, 2002. This legislation strengthened the Bane Civil Rights Act by granting authority to the Attorney General and district and city attorneys to seek a civil penalty of $25,000, payable to the person whose rights have been violated, in any civil action they institute to enforce this law.
In 2002, the Office of the Attorney General sponsored AB 2524, which became effective January 1, 2003. This new law requires parties to any proceeding before the California Supreme Court, California Court of Appeal, or appellate division of the superior court, in cases involving the alleged violation, application or construction of specified California civil rights statutes, to serve copies of their briefs or petitions on the State Solicitor General of the Office of the Attorney General. This new law will improve the Attorney General's ability to identify, at the earliest stage possible, cases which present important civil rights issues and may warrant his participation as amicus curiae.
In 2002, the Office of the Attorney General sponsored AB 1999, which became effective January 1, 2003. This new law amends the Immigration Consultants Act (ICA), Business and Professions Code section 22440 et seq., to authorize the Attorney General, district attorneys, and city attorneys to seek a civil penalty, not to exceed $100,000 for each violation of ICA committed by persons or businesses who provide immigration-related services. This amendment furthers the Attorney General's efforts to deter this type of consumer fraud in California which is pervasive in our immigrant communities.
In 2003, the Office of the Attorney General sponsored SB 262, which will take effect on January 1, 2004. This new law is intended to address the pervasive and persistent problem of non-compliance with state disabled access laws and regulations. The law authorizes the filing of an action for civil penalties by the Attorney General, city attorneys, district attorneys and county counsel against privately-funded public accommodations that, after being given notice, fail to correct violations of state disabled access laws and regulations on their properties. The civil penalty is $2,500 per violation. A privately-funded public accommodation that fails to correct a violation within 90 days of notification is subject to an additional civil penalty of not less than $500 nor more than $2,500 per violation for each additional day that the violation remains. Additionally, this law requires the State Architect to establish and publicize a program for voluntary certification by the state of any person who meets specified criteria as a certified access specialist.