In response to a question from the Ninth Circuit, the California Supreme Court recently held in White v. Square, Inc. that a plaintiff has standing to bring a claim under the Unruh Civil Rights Act when the plaintiff visits a business’s website with the intent of using its services, encounters terms and conditions that allegedly deny full and equal access to its services, and the plaintiff leaves the website without entering into an agreement with the business. The plaintiff was a bankruptcy attorney who was prohibited by the Square terms of service from using Square to accept payments for the collection of debts, who carefully studied the Square terms of service and also received confirmation from Square that its services could not be used for debt collection payments. The plaintiff’s Unruh Act claims were based on a theory of arbitrary discrimination, an issue the court did not decide. This holding may permit additional claims against businesses for alleged discrimination under the expansive terms of the Unruh Civil Rights Act.
Jared Gordon is an attorney in the Business Practice Group of McCormick Barstow, LLP. Prior to private practice, he served as General Counsel to several online industry companies. He primarily advises clients on ecommerce services, online advertising, software licensing, and other vendor contracts. He also advises clients in intellectual property clearance and registration, website accessibility, online sales taxes, social media law, employment matters, acquisitions and sales, real estate, and advice on related litigation. He is the co-Chair of the CLA’s Internet and Privacy Law Committee.