Language Rights Could be Protected Under California Law

Jul 12, 2011 - LegalZoom News Sources
A 2008 Ladies Professional Golf Association rule inspired California State Sen. Leland Yee to draft legislation regarding discrimination based on language.

The California State Assembly recently passed two bills calling for the state's civil rights act to be updated. 

Both bills, SB 111 and SB 88, were authored by Democratic State Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco, and protect the language rights of consumers and voters.

California's Unruh Civil Rights Act ensures businesses cannot deny service to patrons based on characteristics including sex, race, medical condition and sexual orientation. SB 111 adds language to this list, stating businesses cannot impose restrictions regarding what languages can or cannot be spoken by patrons. Yee initially proposed this legislation in 2008, when the Ladies Professional Golf Association began suspending players who did not speak English. That legislation was vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yee said he is confident Governor Jerry Brown will sign SB 111.

SB 88 stipulates candidates for public office must use accurate phonetic translations or transliterations of their name on ballots. Under current law, candidates have been able to appear on ballots using Asian language characters standing for culturally popular names unrelated to their English names, misleading voters.

Despite Gov. Schwarzenegger's veto of Yee's bill, the LPGA rescinded its language policy in September 2008.