Calif. AG candidate seeks to protect discounts for furloughed workers

By Chris Rizo | Jul 10, 2009

Tom Harman (R)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-The only Republican candidate so far for California attorney general has co-authored bipartisan-backed legislation that would allow businesses to offer discounts to furloughed state workers without fear of being sued.

Most California state workers have been furloughed by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger two days a week since February as a way for the cash-strapped state to make ends meet. Then, when the 2009-10 fiscal year started July 1,the governor added another furlough day.

State Sen. Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach, introduced Senate Bill 367 so businesses who offer the discounts could not be sued for violating the Unruh Civil Rights Act.

Harman, the ranking Republican on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, is seeking his party's nomination for attorney general in 2010.

The bill came after San Diego attorney Alfred Rava threatened discrimination lawsuits against businesses that offered special reduced prices for furloughed state workers. Specifically, he is calling for a settlement from the California ski resort Squaw Valley.

State Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Chino, is the bill's other co-author. She said in a statement that the proposal is aimed at protecting businesses.

"We need to remove barriers and impediments that can be used to prevent business from offering a helping hand to those down on their luck," Negrete McLeod said.

The Unruh Civil Rights Act says that businesses must give "the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services" to everyone, "regardless of sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation."

Violators of the law face a minimum penalty of $4,000 per violation plus the cost of the lawsuit's winner's legal fees.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

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