California Attempting to Add “Language” to State’s Civil Rights Act

California State Senator Leland Yee’s (D-San Francisco) disastrous bill (SB 111) would add “language” to the state’s civil rights act. This week, the House Judiciary Committee approved the bill by a vote of 6 to 3, so it could come up for a House floor vote at any time!

Yee authored the same legislation in 2009 and it was passed by the legislature, but thankfully, the bill was vetoed. Today, Californians cannot be so optimistic that new Governor Jerry Brown (D) will veto it as well.

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California’s civil rights law, the Unruh Civil Rights Act, already prohibits discrimination within business establishments based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, and sexual orientation.

Yee’s SB 111 would prohibit a business from adopting a policy that requires, limits, or prohibits the use of any language, especially English, within a business establishment.

You don’t have to be an attorney to figure out the legal implications of this change. This bill threatens to unleash a flood of frivolous lawsuits against private and parochial schools, professional associations, hospitals, community organizations as well as individuals and employers who “discriminate” by failing to accommodate other languages. This law will have the reverse effect of discriminating against those Americans who only speak English or do not speak a myriad of different languages. Businesses will begin to favor hiring multilingual applicants over those who are monolingual English speakers to cover their bases.

S.B. 111 violates the free speech rights of employers and private citizens guaranteed by Article I of the California Constitution and runs afoul of Article III, Section 6 of the California Constitution – the provision making English the official language of California. California voters adopted Section 6 by an overwhelming majority of seventy three percent (73%) in a 1986 statewide referendum. It reads in part: “The legislature shall make no law which diminishes or ignores the role of English as the common language of the State of California.”

While civil rights statutes can effectively protect against “immutable characteristic” discrimination (such as race, ancestry, national origin, and gender discrimination), the language one chooses to speak in the workplace is not immutable and should not have protected status.

California’s economy is suffering. Now is not the time to burden California businesses with costly legislation that will increase their chances of being sued.

Because the Assembly Judiciary Committee approved SB 111, the bill could come to a full House vote at any time.  Tell your state representative NOT to condone DISCRIMINATION against English-speaking citizens by voting NO on SB 111!


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