SACRAMENTO — Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and the Stop AAPI Hate Coalition announced Sept. 13 that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 2448 into law, which requires the California Civil Rights Department (formerly the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing) to create and implement a first-of-its-kind pilot program that motivates businesses to create a safer environment for customers.

“Customers have the right to feel safe in businesses, and workers need training on ensuring that. Right now, our state’s civil rights laws do not adequately protect people who are verbally harassed and intimidated while grocery shopping or eating at a restaurant,” said Ting. “My bill allows businesses to lead the fight against hate and create more welcoming and safe spaces for all Californians.”

Sponsored by the Stop AAPI Hate coalition, the legislation was created in response to more than 4,000 hate incidents reported in California during the past two years — nationwide, the coalition received more than 11,000 reports. Of these incidents, almost two-thirds were verbal harassment and about three-quarters occurred in publicly accessible spaces — on the street, public transit, and in businesses.

“We appreciate Gov. Newsom for signing AB 2448 into law and recognizing that businesses must play an active role in preventing hate and harassment,” said Manjusha Kulkarni, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate and executive director of the AAPI Equity Alliance. “This law names hate-based harassment as a pervasive problem. It is an essential first step in creating safer environments for customers.”

Women, especially women of color, as well as LGBTQ+ people, elderly and young folks, and other vulnerable people are common targets of harassment while in publicly accessible spaces necessary for daily living, including grocery stores, restaurants, gyms, banks, and other businesses. Customers who are subjected to unwanted sexualized and racialized comments and slurs, and other intimidating actions, bear too much of the responsibility and burden of keeping themselves safe.

AB 2448 creates a first-of-its-kind program that incentivizes businesses to create safe and welcoming environments and empowers customers with information about which businesses are taking steps to address hate and harassment so that they can patronize or contract with businesses that take a meaningful stand.

The bill is effective as of Jan. 1, 2023.

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