California Will Create a Pilot Program Recognizing Businesses That Create Safe and Welcoming Environments
California Will Create a Pilot Program Recognizing Businesses That Create Safe and Welcoming Environments

Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 2448 into law, which will enact Civil Code section 51.17. The law requires the Civil Rights Department (formerly the Department of Fair Employment and Housing) to establish a pilot program to recognize businesses that promote or create environments free from discrimination and harassment of customers.  Recognition will come in the form of a certificate the department would issue to qualifying businesses that may be prominently displayed on site. The department would also publish on its internet website a list of businesses receiving the certificate. 

To qualify for a certificate of recognition under the pilot program, a business would need to meet certain criteria – to be espoused by the Civil Rights Department – which may include, but not be limited to:

(A) Demonstrating that the business establishment provides full and equal accommodations to customers regardless of specified characteristics, including sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, citizenship, primary language, or immigration status;

(B) Offering additional training to educate and inform employees or build skills;

(C) Informing the public of their rights to be free from discrimination and harassment and how to report violations;

(D) Outlining a code of conduct for the public that encourages respectful and civil behavior; and

(E) Any other actions designed to prevent and respond to discrimination and harassment regardless of the identity of the perpetrator.

Unfortunately for businesses, receiving a certificate would not be relevant to the defense of claims or otherwise establish a compliance with existing law.  Rather, the purpose of the program is for the Civil Rights Department to determine whether such recognition affects customer behavior, incentivizes businesses to comply with the Civil Rights Act, or reduces the incidence of discrimination and harassment at businesses.  In this regard, AB 2448 requires the department to evaluate whether the recognition is effective on or before January 1, 2028. 

The pilot program must be established by the Civil Rights Department on or before January 1, 2025.  Unless it is extended, it will expire, and the statute will be repealed, on July 1, 2028.


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