FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 24, 2010
CONTACT: Vaishalee Raja, Equality California
PHONE: 916-284-9187 EMAIL: vaishaleeATeqcaDOTorg
State Senate Passes New Hate Crimes Bill Protecting Against Legal Loopholes
Sacramento – The State Senate today passed the Hate Crimes Protection Act (AB 1680) in a 22-13 bipartisan vote. The bill would exempt hate crimes from mandatory arbitration clauses, often included in employment contracts and would prohibit contracts from requiring an individual to waive his or her legal rights and procedures, guaranteed under the Ralph Civil Rights Act and Bane Civil Rights Act, which provide protections for victims of hate crimes. The bill is sponsored by Equality California and was introduced by Assemblymember Lori Saldaña (D-San Diego).
“This bill will close an existing loophole in our state’s hate crimes law,” said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California. “Victims of hate crimes should never be forced into arbitration simply because they signed an employment or residential contract with fine print that waives their right to seek justice in our courts.”
Although California state and civil laws protect people from hate-related crimes, private contracts often require individuals to relinquish their fundamental rights and protections.
“Victims of hate crimes shouldn't be forced to abandon essential rights like a trial by jury simply because they have entered into a contract for employment, housing, education or other goods and services, and if they choose to, that choice should be completely voluntary and not a condition of any contract,” Saldaña said.
The California Penal Code defines a hate crime as “a criminal act committed because of actual or perceived characteristics of the victim including disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.”
For more information about Equality California’s other legislation, please visit us online at www.eqca.org/legislation.
Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender-rights advocacy organization in California. Over the past decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for LGBT individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive civil rights protections in the nation. Equality California has passed over 60 pieces of legislation and continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org