Understanding the Unruh Civil Rights Act and Accessibility Requirements in California

12/12/20232 min read


In California, the Unruh Civil Rights Act (Unruh) plays a crucial role in protecting individuals from discrimination based on disability. This act also includes accessibility requirements for privately owned businesses. In addition to federal accessibility requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), businesses in California must comply with Unruh to avoid legal consequences. This article aims to shed light on the Unruh Civil Rights Act and its implications for businesses in the state.

Unruh and ADA Compliance

Businesses that fail to meet the federal accessibility requirements outlined in the ADA are not only in violation of federal law but also of Unruh in California. This means that businesses need to ensure their premises, both physical and virtual, are accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Tester Plaintiffs and Lawsuits

One notable aspect of Unruh is the inclusion of private enforcers, often referred to as "tester" plaintiffs. These individuals actively seek out businesses that may not be in compliance with ADA accessibility requirements. Tester plaintiffs often target multiple businesses to test their compliance, and if found lacking, they may file lawsuits against them.

Implications for Online and Brick-and-Mortar Businesses

The Unruh Civil Rights Act has implications for both online and brick-and-mortar businesses. Online businesses need to ensure that their websites and digital platforms are accessible to individuals with disabilities. This includes features such as alternative text for images, keyboard navigation, and proper color contrast for visually impaired users.

Brick-and-mortar businesses must ensure that their physical premises are accessible, with features like ramps, wide doorways, and accessible restrooms. Failure to comply with these requirements may leave businesses vulnerable to lawsuits under Unruh.

Recent Case Developments

There have been recent case developments highlighting the importance of Unruh compliance. It is crucial for businesses to stay updated on these developments to understand the legal landscape and ensure they are taking the necessary steps to comply with accessibility requirements.


The Unruh Civil Rights Act in California serves as a vital tool in protecting individuals with disabilities from discrimination. Businesses must understand and comply with the accessibility requirements outlined in Unruh and the ADA to avoid legal consequences. By prioritizing accessibility, both online and brick-and-mortar businesses can create inclusive environments and enhance the overall experience for individuals with disabilities.