California Department of Fair Employment and Housing Releases Information on Combating Hate Crimes During the Coronavirus Pandemic

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May 29, 2020

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused upheaval and uncertainty in many aspects of life, which has unfortunately led to some people lashing out at others.  In light of reports of increasing violence and harassment against various communities, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) recently released information on how to combat hate crimes during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Ralph Civil Rights Act [Cal. Civ. Code § 51.7] proclaims that all persons have the right to be free from violence, or intimidation by threat of violence, committed against their persons or property on account of their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, citizenship, primary language, or immigration status, or because of their political affiliation or position in a labor dispute, or because another person perceives them to have one or more of those characteristics.  California law forbids verbal or written threats, physical assault or attempted assault, graffiti, and vandalism or property damage on these bases.  These may also be criminal acts, in addition to imposing civil liability.

The DFEH has noted a rise in reports of violence and harassment against various protected communities, notably the Asian-American community, during the COVID-19 pandemic.  While these times are certainly frightening and uncertain, it is no excuse for hate violence, harassment, intimidation, or discrimination, which all remain illegal.

The DFEH has released information on examples of prohibited hate violence as well as available remedies for violations of the Ralph Civil Rights Act.  Examples of unlawful behavior include: hitting, spitting on, or forcibly interfering with people because of how they look in terms of their race, ancestry, or national origin; attempting to push, kick, or violently intimidate people because of the language they speak; vandalizing a business, home, or other property because it belongs to someone who is, or is perceived to be, an immigrant or from another country; and advocating unlawful violence against people because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or other protected characteristic.

Available civil remedies include restraining orders to protect victims, monetary damages (medical expenses, property repair, lost wages, emotional distress, etc.), punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, and civil penalties up to $25,000.

It is also illegal in California for employers, housing providers, and business establishments to discriminate against or harass people based on a protected characteristic.  [Cal. Gov. Code §§ 12900, et seq.; Cal. Civ. Code §§ 51, et seq.]

If you think you have been a victim of hate violence, Eskridge Law is here to help.

Need more information?
ESKRIDGE LAW may be contacted by phone (310/303-3951), by fax (310/303-3952) or by email (  Please visit our website at

This article is based on the law as of the date posted at the top of the article.  This article does not constitute the provision of legal advice, and does not by itself create an attorney-client relationship with Eskridge Law.