The Unruh Civil Rights Act is already existing law in California, and is aimed at preventing discrimination. Originally passed in 1959, the provisions of the law have been expanded over time to prevent discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation. The Unruh Civil Rights Act applies to all businesses, including retail establishments and restaurants. SB 600 adds three new protected categories to the list, and specifically prohibits discrimination based on citizenship, primary language, and immigration status.
This law does not prevent employers from verifying the legal immigration and work authorization status of employees – that continue to be mandated by federal law. The law also does not require a business to provide service or documents in multiple languages. However, SB 600 does prevent an employer from adopting or enforcing an English-only policy in the workplace (unless justified by business necessity), and prevents businesses from refusing to serve individuals solely on the basis that the customer or vendor is not a U.S. citizen, is not an English speaker, and/or is not in the country legally.