Penal Code section 186.21 declares that it is the right of every person, regardless
of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, sexual orientation, or
handicap, to be protected from fear, intimidation, and physical harm caused by
the activities of violent groups and individuals. (This is part of the “California Street
Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act,” enacted in 1988.)
Penal Code section 1170.85 makes it possible to impose higher sentences for a
felony if the victim is particularly vulnerable, or unable to defend himself or herself,
due to age or significant disability. Penal Code section 667.9 provides specific term
enhancements for repeat offenders who commit certain crimes against persons whom
the perpetrator knows is disabled, persons 65 years or older, or persons under the age
Penal Code section 11410 (terrorism) expresses the Legislature’s intent that it is the
right of every person, regardless of his or her race, color, creed, religion, gender, or
national origin, to be secure and protected from fear, intimidation and physical harm
caused by the activities of violent groups and individuals. This section also contains
the Legislature’s express finding that the advocacy of unlawful violent acts by
groups against other persons or groups where death and/or great bodily injury is
likely, is not constitutionally protected, poses a threat to public order and safety, and
should be subject to criminal and civil sanctions.
Penal Code section 13023 requires local law enforcement agencies to report to the Department of Justice any criminal act where there is reasonable cause to believe the crime was motivated by the victim’s race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability. The Department of Justice is required to issue an annual report on July 1 s tof every year concerning such crimes.
Penal Code section 13515.25, effective January 1, 2001, requires that the Commission on Peace
Officer Standards and Training establish a continuing education course relating to law enforcement interaction with developmentally disabled and mentally ill persons
California's Victims of Crime Program
Under Government Code sections 13959-13969.4, some crime victims may be eligible
for financial assistance for unreimbursed expenses resulting from the crime.
For information and assistance, contact:
California Department of Justice
Attorney General’s Office
Office of Victims’ Services
1300 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Toll Free Number: (877) 433-9069 (in California)
Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964
A key provision of federal law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) (42 U.S.C. §
2000e et seq.), also prohibits discrimination in employment.
Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, in the classification, selection, hiring, promotion, compensation, or termination of employees, or any other discrimination in benefits or other conditions of employment. Title VII establishes a federal agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), to seek out and eliminate unlawful employment practices in accordance with the procedures prescribed by Title VII. Title VII covers state and local governments, private employers with fifteen or more employees, labor organizations, employment services and apprenticeship programs.
You must file your complaint with the EEOC within 300 days of the alleged discrimination or
within 30 days of termination of any state proceeding, whichever period expires first. Title VII
requires you to file your complaint with the DFEH before allowing you to lodge your Title VII
complaint. However, the EEOC and DFEH have a joint filing agreement so a complaint filed with one agency is automatically filed with the other as well.
Like the FEHA, Title VII provides for administrative investigations and a private right of action.
However, unlike awards given by the Fair Employment and Housing Commission under the FEHA, administrative findings of the EEOC are not enforceable in court. The EEOC may file a court action to enforce your rights under Title VII, or the EEOC will issue you a “right to sue” letter authorizing you to file your own action in court. If you file a private court action, you may recover back pay and other make-whole relief, injunctive relief, punitive damages, and reasonable attorney fees.
If you have been discriminated against in the area of employment, and want to bring a federal claim based upon Title VII, contact the nearest office of the EEOC. Listed below are the addresses and telephone numbers of the EEOC offices located throughout California:Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) (42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.) is a comprehensive federal statute aimed at eliminating discrimination against disabled persons in employment, public services (including transportation), public accommodations, and telecommunications.
The ADA prohibits employment discrimination against a qualified individual with a disability
because of that disability in job applications, hiring, advancement, discharge, compensation, job
training, and other terms and conditions of employment.47 An individual with a disability is one who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, who has a record of such an impairment, or who is regarded as having such an impairment. A qualified individual with a disability is one who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the job.
Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodation for known limitations of qualified
individuals with a disability, unless to do so would impose an undue hardship on the business. The procedures and remedies to redress ADA employment discrimination violations are those provided under Title VII, which, as discussed above, must begin with filing a complaint with the EEOC.
The Unruh Civil Rights Act
The Unruh Civil Rights Act76, or Unruh Act, as discussed in the housing chapter of this publication, applies to all business establishments of every kind whatsoever which provide services, goods, or accommodations to the public. Businesses subject to the Unruh Act include bookstores, gymnasiums, shopping centers, mobile home parks, bars and restaurants, schools, medical and dental offices, hotels and motels, and condominium homeowners associations.77 The Unruh Act prohibits all types of arbitrary discrimination, and not just discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, disability or medical condition.78 The Unruh Act also prohibits discrimination based on personal characteristics, geographical origin, physical attributes, and individual beliefs. For example, the arbitrary exclusion of individuals from a restaurant based on their sexual orientation is prohibited.79
You can pursue an Unruh Act claim by filing a verified complaint with the Department of Fair
Employment and Housing (DFEH) or a private lawsuit. If a business establishment is engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination, you can refer the matter to the Attorney General’s Office or to your local district or city attorney. Please refer to the housing chapter of this publication for the procedures to follow and remedies available in redressing your claim for a public accommodation’s violation of the Unruh Act.0See Title 42 of the United States Code, section 12101 et. seq. The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, programs and services provided to the public by state and local governments, and goods and services provided by private companies and commercial facilities. It contains requirements for new construction, for alterations or renovations to buildings and facilities, and for improving full and equal access to the existing facilities of private companies providing goods or services to the public. In addition, the ADA requires effective communication with disabled individuals and modifications of discriminatory policies and practices.
81You may also visit the United States Department of Justice’s ADA Web site at
82 See Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations.Protection Against Discrimination by Persons Licensed to Render Services
Business and Professions Code section 125.6 provides that any person who holds a license pursuant to the Business and Professions Code87 is subject to disciplinary action if that person discriminates
Professions and vocations covered include physicians, surgeons, chiropractors,
dentists, dental hygienists, clinical laboratory technologists and bioanalysts, podiatrists,
midwives, physical therapists, speech pathologists, optometrists, dispensing opticians, nurses,
psychologists, hearing aid dispensers, pharmacists, psychiatric technicians, veterinarians,
accountants, outdoor advertisers, architects, attorneys, barbers, engineers, collection agencies,
building contractors, those engaged in the selling or hiring of guide dogs, cosmetologists, private
detectives, funeral directors, cemeteries, embalmers, geologists and geophysicists, shorthand
reporters, structural pest control operators, social workers, construction inspectors, dry cleaners,
electronic and appliance repairers, automobile mechanics, tax reporters, real estate brokers and
salespersons, and holders of most liquor licenses. in, restricts the performance of, or refuses to perform the licensed activity because of a consumer’s race, color, sex, religion, ancestry, disability, marital status, or national origin.
In addition, Business and Professions Code section 726 bars the commission of any act of sexual
abuse, misconduct, or relations with a patient, client, or customer constitutes unprofessional conduct and grounds for disciplinary action for persons holding certain professional licenses.
Moreover, Business and Professions Code section 23438 prohibits certain private clubs and
organizations which hold liquor licenses from discriminating against certain groups. It also provides that expenditures at restrictive clubs are not tax-deductible.88
If you believe you have been discriminated against by a state-licensed individual or entity, you
should file a complaint with the state licensing board which regulates the profession, vocation, or
business involved. For information regarding what board has jurisdiction over a particular licensee contact:
California Department of Consumer Affairs
401 R Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Telephone: (800) 952-5210
TDD: (916) 322-1700
Web Site: www.dca.ca.gov
Government Code section 11135 prohibits any program or activity funded by or receiving
financial assistance from the State from discriminating against or unlawfully denying benefits
to a person on the basis of that person’s ethnic group identification, religion, age, sex, color,
10. Government Code section 12948 makes it an unlawful practice under the FEHA93 for a
person to deny or to aid, incite, or conspire in the denial of the rights created by the Unruh
Civil Rights Act, Civil Code section 51, and the rights protected by Civil Code sections 51.5,
51.7, 54, 54.1, or 54.2.
Government Code section 54961 prohibits all local agencies from conducting meetings,
conferences, or other functions in any facility that is inaccessible to a disabled person or that
prohibits the admittance of any person on the basis of race, religious creed, color, national
origin, ancestry, or sex.
PUBLIC ASSISTANCE/GOVERNMENT BENEFITS
In California, people who apply for or receive public assistance have specific rights which protect them from discrimination in the administration of such programs. California Welfare and
Institutions Code section 10000 states that aid shall be administered and services provided without discrimination on account of race, national origin or ancestry, religion, sex, marital status, or political affiliation.94 This code section pertains to persons applying for or receiving public assistance through any of the following programs:
• Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC)
• California Medical Assistance (Medi-Cal)
• County Medical Services Program
• Food Stamps
• In-Home Supportive Service (IHSS)
• Multipurpose Senior Service Program
• Social Services
• SSI/SSP Special Circumstances Payments
• Women, Infants and Children Program
When you apply for or receive public assistance, the right provided you by Welfare and Institutions Code section 10000 must be respected by every person and organization you come into contact with in connection with public assistance, including, for example, county welfare departments, boarding homes and institutions, day nurseries, work or training programs, hospitals, nursing homes, doctors, dentists, and druggists.
If you believe you have been discriminated against, you may file a complaint with your county
welfare department’s civil rights representative. Such a complaint must be filed within 180 days
of the alleged discriminatory act unless the agency extends the time period. If the representative is unable to resolve your complaint, you may request an investigation. The county is then required to investigate the complaint and inform you of the outcome. If you are dissatisfied with the result of
this investigation, you have 30 days to appeal the county’s action to the appropriate federal agency.
You have the right not to be retaliated against for either filing a discrimination complaint or for
testifying, assisting or otherwise participating in the processing of a complaint. Any retaliation
should be reported in the same manner as the original discrimination complaint.
In connection with all of the previously listed public assistance programs, except for the Medi-Cal program, you may also file a discrimination complaint with:
Department of Social Services
Civil Rights Bureau
744 P Street, MS 15-70
Sacramento, CA 95814
Web Site: http://www.dss.cahwnet.gov/civilrights/
In connection with the Medi-Cal program, you may also file a discrimination complaint with:
Department of Health Services
Office of Civil Rights
714 P Street, Room 1050
Sacramento, CA 95814
General Information (916) 445-4171
TDD Only (916) 657-2861
AIDS (916) 445-0553
Web Site: http://www.dhs.cahwnet.gov/
Furthermore, you may also file a discrimination complaint with the following federal agency:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Region IX
Office for Civil Rights
50 United Nations Plaza, Room 322
San Francisco, CA 94102
Voice Phone (415) 437-8310
FAX (415) 437-8329
TDD (415) 437-8311
Web Site: http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/regmail.html#regoff
If your complaint involves the Food Stamp Program, contact:
U.S. Department of Agriculture
14th & Independence Ave., SW
Washington, D.C. 20250
Telephone: (202) 720-2791
Food Stamp Information: (800) 221-5689
California Hotline: (800) 952-5253
Web Site: http://www.usda.gov/da/
If you apply for or receive aid for aged, blind or disabled persons through the Supplemental
Income/State Supplementary Program, you have rights similar to those stated above. Discrimination
complaints concerning this program must be addressed to the Social Security Office nearest you
since the Social Security Administration is the agency which handles discrimination complaints for this program.
In addition, California has a general statute prohibiting unlawful discrimination in the administration of any program funded partially or fully by the State.95 Government Code section 11135, subdivision (a), states:
“No person in the State of California shall, on the basis of ethnic group
identification, religion, age, sex, color, or disability, be unlawfully denied the
benefits of, or be unlawfully subjected to discrimination under, any program or
activity that is funded directly by the state or receives any financial assistance from
If you have a discrimination problem which you believe is covered by Government Code section
11135, you can file a complaint with the particular state agency that provided state funds to the
entity which acted in an alleged discriminatory fashion. Any person, including interested third
parties, can file the complaint. The complaint must be filed within one year of the alleged unlawful discrimination. However, if you do not discover facts about an unlawful practice until after the expiration of the one-year filing period, you have an additional 90 days to file a complaint
Apply this to parenting classes, anger management,drug and alcohol that the courts forces you to do.
Education Code section 220 prohibits discrimination based on sex, ethnic group
identification, race, national origin, religion, color, mental or physical disability in
any program or activity conducted by an educational institution that receives, or
benefits from, state financial assistance or enrolls pupils who receive state student
Also keep in mind our children who are forced psych drugs and the school is involved with programs to enter our children so they too can get paid-this is bias
Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 42 U.S.C. section 2000c et seq., also provide protection against discrimination in education on the basis
of race, sex, color, religion, or national origin. Title IV and Title IX are applicable to public schools.
The term “public schools” includes any elementary, secondary, or higher educational institution which receives federal financial assistance.
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces five federal statutes that prohibit discrimination in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance from the Department of Education. Discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin is prohibited by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; sex discrimination is prohibited by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 42 U.S.C. § 2000c et seq; discrimination on the basis of disability is prohibited by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; and age discrimination is prohibited by the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 (42 U.S.C. §§ 6101-6107).
Furthermore, any private institution receiving federal funds must provide equal educational opportunities, pursuant to the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987, 20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.
The civil rights laws enforced by OCR extend to all state education agencies, elementary and secondary school systems, colleges and universities, vocational schools, proprietary schools, state vocational rehabilitation agencies, libraries, and museums that receive federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education. Programs and activities that receive these federal funds must be operated in a non-discriminatory manner. Such programs or activities may include, but are not limited to: admissions, recruitment, financial aid, academic programs, student treatment andservices, counseling and guidance, discipline, classroom assignment, grading, vocational education, recreation, physical education, athletics, housing, and employment.
Who may file?
Anyone who believes that an educational institution that receives federal financial assistance has discriminated against someone on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age may file a complaint. The person or organization filing the complaint need not be a victim of the alleged discrimination, but may complain on behalf of another person or group.
Those who wish to file a formal complaint with OCR should do so in writing within 180 days of the alleged discrimination with the following information in a letter or on the Discrimination Complaint Form available from OCR enforcement offices:
• Your name and address (a telephone number where you may be reached during business
hours is helpful, but not required).
• A general description of the person(s) or class of persons injured by the alleged
discriminatory act(s) (names of the injured person(s) are not required).
• The name and location of the institution that committed the alleged discriminatory act(s) and a description of the alleged discriminatory act(s) in sufficient detail to enable OCR to
understand what occurred, when it occurred, and the basis for the alleged discrimination
(race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age).
For further information, the OCR office for California is located at:
U.S. Department of Education
Office for Civil Rights
Old Federal Building
50 United Nations Plaza, Room 239
San Francisco, CA 94102-4102
Telephone: (415) 556-4275
FAX: (415) 437-7783; TDD: (415) 437-7786
The OCR national headquarters is located at:
U.S. Department of Education
Office for Civil Rights
Customer Service Team
Mary E. Switzer Building
330 C Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20202
Telephone: (800) 421-3481
FAX: (202) 205-9862; TDD: (877) 521-2172
Web Site: http://www.ed.gov/offices/OCR/
Recognizing the primary role that medical and health care plays in all of our lives, the Legislature has enacted several laws to ensure that medical and health care is delivered in a nondiscriminatory manner. Any health care and/or medical program receiving any form of funding or financial assistance from the State is prohibited from denying services based on ethnic group identification, religion, age, sex, color, or disability.103 Moreover, as previously discussed in Chapter V, providers of medical services under the Medi-Cal program are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, national origin, ancestry, religion, sex, marital status, or political affiliation in providing services to their Medi-Cal patients. This prohibition against discrimination applies to many different kinds of providers of health care services, including doctors, dentists, therapists, hospitals, rest homes, and rehabilitation centers. Medi-Cal recipients who choose to enroll in prepaid health plans are also protected. Prepaid health plans cannot discriminate against Medi-Cal enrollees on the basis of race, sex, age, religion, creed, color, national origin or ancestry.104 If you believe you have been discriminated against by a Medi-Cal provider, a prepaid health plan funded by Medi-Cal, or by any other health care provider which receives state funds, you should follow the procedures outlined in the Public Assistance/Government Benefits chapter of this publication.
The right to receive medical care and treatment in a nondiscriminatory manner is not limited to
medical treatment and services paid for or funded by the government. Private business
establishments which provide health care or medical services are also prohibited by the Unruh Civil Rights Act from denying such services based on arbitrary classifications such as sex, color, race, national origin, religion, ancestry, disability or medical condition.105 The Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA) makes it unlawful for places of public accommodation, including medical and dental providers, to discriminate on the basis of disability.106 Any violation of the ADA is also a violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act.107 Health care providers cannot refuse to provide services on the basis of HIV infection unless to do so would pose a “direct threat to the health or safety of others.103 Government Code section 11135.
104 Welfare and Institutions Code section 14200.1.
105 The Unruh Civil Rights Act has also been interpreted to prohibit discrimination on
the basis of sexual orientation. (See Rolon v. Kulwitzky (1984) 153 Cal.App.3d 289 and Hubert
v. Williams (1982) 133 Cal.App.3d Supp.1.) For a more complete discussion of the type of
classifications prohibited by the Unruh Civil Rights Act and of the remedies available under that
Act, see chapter III and chapter IV in this publication.
106 42 U.S.C. § 12182.
107 Civil Code section 51.” “Direct threat” means “a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices or procedures or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services.”108 Routine medical and dental care is unlikely to pose such a threat.109
Most licensed individuals and private business establishments which provide health care or medical services are prohibited from unlawfully discriminating against patients as a condition of maintaining their licenses to operate. Therefore, licensed individuals and business establishments which discriminate against you should be promptly reported to their respective licensing boards.
Furthermore, if the provider of your health services is a licensed health facility such as a hospital,
nursing home, or clinic, and you believe that your provider has discriminated against you, you
should contact the nearest office of the Licensing and Certification Division of the State Department of Health Services, or the office listed below, to file your complaint or to ask any questions that you may have:
Office of Civil Rights
State Department of Health Services
714 P Street, Room 1050
Sacramento, CA 95814
Web Site: http://www.dhs.cahwnet.gov/
The Legislature has also recognized that certain groups, because of their unique medical and health needs, warrant legislation specially designed to meet their needs. One such group consists of developmentally-disabled children and adults who reside in our communities. In order to meet the needs of this group and to allow them to live more independent and useful lives, the Legislature enacted the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act, Welfare & Institutions Code Section 4500 et seq.
Section 4502 of the Act affirms that people do not give up their constitutional or statutory rights by virtue of having a developmental disability. The same section contains a prohibition against denying an otherwise qualified person with a developmental disability participation in, or the benefits of, any program or activity which receives public funds. It also enumerates rights that persons with developmental disabilities have, including rights “to treatment and habilitation services . . . to dignity, privacy and humane care . . . to participate in an appropriate level of publicly supported education . . . to prompt medical care and treatment . . . [and] to be free from harm . . . [and] hazardous procedures.”
Section 4503 of this Act acknowledges that persons who are housed in state hospitals and in other residential settings such as community care facilities are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. To prohibit the continuation or recurrence of abuses, this section states that persons placed in such facilities shall have certain rights that can only be denied or withdrawn under specified conditions.
These rights include the right to the use of money, the right to personal possessions and private
108 42 U.S.C. § 12182(3).
109 See Abbott v. Bragdon (1st Cir.1998) 163 F.3d 87, cert. den. (1999) 526 U.S. 1131.
storage space, the right to communicate with others outside the facility by telephone, mail, or visits, and the right to refuse certain treatment procedures.
Section 4503 also requires that these rights be posted prominently in English, Spanish and other
appropriate languages in all residential facilities. Further, section 4504 states that such facilities
may only deny any of these rights for good cause, and that any denial shall be entered into the
person’s treatment record.110
The Department of Developmental Services, which oversees most programs and health facilities
providing health and medical services to the developmentally disabled, maintains an office which can respond to complaints or answer questions regarding discrimination against the developmentally disabled or the rights afforded such individuals. You can reach this office at the following address and telephone number:
Office of Human Rights
Department of Developmental Services
1600 9th Street, Room 340
Sacramento, California 95814
Web Site: http://www.dds.cahwnet.gov/
In recognition of the needs of its elderly, California has established the Long-Term Care
Ombudsman Program, Welfare & Institutions Code section 9710 et seq. The Ombudsman Program is set up to investigate and resolve complaints made by or on behalf of the elderly in long-term care facilities and to assist residents, patients, and clients of long-term care facilities in the assertion of their civil and human rights. If you have a complaint or desire more information on the Ombudsman
Program in your area, call:
(800) 510-2020 (within California only)
In the alternative, you may contact the following office:
California Department of Aging
1600 K Street
Sacramento, California 95814
FAX (916) 324-4989
Web Site: http://www.aging.state.ca.us/
Miscellaneous State Health Care Statutes Forbidding Discrimination
1. Welfare and Institutions Code section 5006 prevents an individual who is mentally
disordered, developmentally disabled, or impaired by chronic alcoholism from being
denied the right to treatment by spiritual means such as prayer when he or she is
involuntarily detained for evaluation or treatment under the provisions of the
Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, Welfare and Institutions Code section 5000 et seq.
2. Welfare and Institutions Code section 16509 permits a child, absent a specific
danger to his or her physical or emotional safety, to be raised according to cultural
and religious practices and beliefs which differ from general community standards.
This section also specifies that raising a child in such a fashion shall not create a
need for child welfare services.
3. Health and Safety Code sections 1232, 1258, 1459, and 32128.10
provide that health facilities, clinics, county hospitals, and hospitals formed by hospital districts
which permit sterilization operations for contraceptive purposes cannot discriminate
on the basis of age, marital status, or number of natural children in performing such
4. Health and Safety Code section 1317 prohibits discrimination in the provision of
emergency services and care based on a person’s race, ethnicity, religion, national
origin, citizenship, age, sex, preexisting medical condition, physical or mental
handicap, insurance status, economic status, or ability to pay, except to the extent
that a person’s age, sex, preexisting medical condition, or physical or mental
handicap are medically significant.
State and Local Governmental Conduct
42 U.S.C. section 1983 creates a private right of action to redress deprivations under color of state law of any federal rights, privileges or immunities. The purpose of section 1983, according to the United States Supreme Court, was “to interpose the federal courts between the States and the people, as guardians of the people’s federal rights–to protect the people from unconstitutional action under color of state law, ‘whether that action be executive, legislative, or judicial.’” (Mitchum v. Foster
(1972) 407 U.S. 225, 242.)
The challenged conduct must constitute governmental action. In other words, rather than regulating purely private actions, section 1983 regulates state and local governmental conduct. Thus, if you have been discriminated against by some form of government action in a manner depriving you of your federal rights, then a section 1983 action may be appropriate. For more information regarding a section 1983 action, you should contact any attorney as soon as possible after the alleged unlawful act has occurred. Finally, a few important points concerning section 1983 should be considered. First, section 1983 permits relief in the form of nominal, compensatory, and punitive damages, and/or injunctive relief, depending upon the circumstances. Second, attorney’s fees can be recovered by the prevailing party in a section 1983 action. Third, no federal statute of limitations applies to section 1983, so state statutes of limitation will generally control section 1983 suits. In California, there is a one-year period to file section 1983 actions.111 Many cities have adopted their own ordinances to supplement state laws forbidding discrimination. You should contact your city attorney or a private attorney to see if your city has adopted such ordinances, and, if so, the procedures you must follow to assert your rights.
111Ricotta v. California (S.D.Cal. 1998) 4 F.Supp.2d 961, 980, affd. (9th Cir. 1999) 173
F.3d 861, cert. den. (1999) 528 U.S. 864
PEACE OFFICER MISCONDUCT OR ABUSE
A governmental authority, agent or person acting on behalf of a governmental authority is
prohibited from engaging in a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers that
deprives any person of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by state or federal
law. The Attorney General may bring a civil action for equitable or declaratory relief to
eliminate the unlawful pattern or practice.112
Penal Code section 832.5 requires each department or agency which employs peace officers to
establish a procedure for investigating citizens’ complaints against such officers. Each
department or agency is required to make available to the public a written description of the
procedure it uses. Complaints, reports, or findings must be retained for a period of at least five
It is the policy of the California Department of Justice that local government will be primarily
responsible for citizen complaints against law enforcement agencies and their employees, and
that appropriate local resources (e.g., sheriff or police department, district attorney, citizens’
review commission and/or grand jury) be utilized for resolution of such complaints prior to a
request for intervention by the Attorney General. All complaints filed with the California
Department of Justice will be processed and reviewed by the Attorney General’s Public Inquiry
Unit to determine whether all local remedies have been exhausted. Complaints meeting this
criterion are then forwarded to and reviewed by the Attorney General’s Criminal Law Division
and Civil Rights Enforcement Section. If the complaint alleges that the local district attorney
wrongfully declined to criminally prosecute the officer-involved, the Criminal Law Division
may review the matter to determine whether the district attorney abused his or her discretion in
declining to bring criminal charges and take whatever other action that the Attorney General
may deem appropriate. Complaints that raise alleged patterns or practices of the violation of
civil rights by a local law enforcement agency may be reviewed by the Civil Rights Enforcement
Section for whatever action that the Attorney General may deem appropriate. You may contact:
California Department of Justice
Office of the Attorney General
Public Inquiry Unit
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550
Telephone (800) 952-5225 Toll Free (in California)
(800) 952-5549 Toll Free TTD (in California)
(916) 324-5564 TTD
Web Site: http://caag.state.ca.us/
112Legislation effective January 1, 2001. (Civ. Code, § 52.3.)Civil Code sections 52.3, and 52.1, and the California Constitution, article V, section 13,provide civil remedies under which the California Attorney General may redress patterns orpractices.
Penal Code section 13519.4, effective January 1, 2001, prohibits “racial profiling” by law
enforcement officers. “Racial profiling” is the practice of detaining a suspect for no reason other
than the color of that person’s skin or apparent nationality or ethnicity. Racial profiling violates
the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses and the prohibition against unlawful searches and
seizures embodied in the state and federal constitutions. Every law enforcement officer is
required to participate in training on racial and cultural diversity, which includes, but is not
limited to, gender and sexual orientation issues.
42 U.S.C. 14141 is the federal law prohibiting any governmental authority, agent, or person
acting on behalf of a governmental authority, to engage in a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers or by officials or employees of any governmental agency with
responsibility for the administration of juvenile justice or the incarceration of juveniles that deprives persons of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States. To file a section 14141 complaint, contact:
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Section
P.O. Box 66400,
Washington, D.C. 20035-6400
Telephone: (202) 514-6255
Fax: (202) 514-0212
Web site: http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/split/pppmp.htm
In addition, there are other state and federal penal statutes that address peace officer misconduct.
Those cases are prosecuted under state statutes by district attorneys and city attorneys, and under
federal statutes by U.S. Attorneys and/or the U.S. Department of Justice.
Individuals may also seek other civil and tort remedies under state and federal law. Local and
state bar associations may be contacted for private attorney referrals. Contact the California
State Bar at:
The State Bar of California
San Francisco (Main Office) Los Angeles
180 Howard Street 1149 South Hill Street
San Francisco, CA 94105-1639 Los Angeles, CA 90015-2299
Telephone: (415) 538-2000 Telephone: (213) 765-1000
Web Site: http://www.calbar.org/