Can a nudist resort’s no-kids policy survive California’s civil rights law?

That’s the question asked in the lawsuit I filed recently, which has been attracting a lot of local media attention.  As the complaint alleges, my clients, owners of Desert Sun Resort in Palm Springs, were threatened with legal action under California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act unless they reversed the resort’s no-kids policy.  My clients are seeking declaratory relief that the no-kids policy is lawful. 

KNX 1070 ran this piece on the lawsuit yesterday.  Tim Conway Jr. talked about the story last night (starting at about the 34:10 mark).  Palm Spring’s local paper also ran a piece on the lawsuit yesterday, as did Valley News.  The OC Weekly’s blog had a piece up on March 23 (NSFW).

UPDATE [3/29/12]: I was on with Tim Conway, Jr. last night at 8:00 talking about the story. 

Tim Kowal

Tim Kowal is a husband, father, and attorney in Orange County, California, Vice President of the Orange County Federalist Society, commissioner on the OC Human Relations Commission, and Treasurer of Huntington Beach Tomorrow. The views expressed on this blog are his own. You can follow this blog via RSS, Facebook, or Twitter. Email is welcome at timkowal at


  1. Pardon me if I find this kind of hilarious; you defending a nudist resort! But of course there side of the issue is the side I would predict you’d be on, even if you weren’t acting as their lawyer. Here’s hoping you win.

    • I’m thinking that the nudists in the Palm Springs area (I’ve been around Indio & Joshua Tree a few times) would have to be very, very careful.
      An accident waiting to happen– that’s what I call it.

    • I think this is exactly the right side for anyone, especially a conservative, to be on. Nude adults and kids don’t mix very well and anti-discrimination law, like everything else, needs to be balanced against reality. I like the Unruh Act. I don’t think it’s the be-all end-all of the law; a compelling interest like the obvious ones here can and should override it in appropriate situations.

      Good luck Tim and colleagues.

  2. It’s like watching a wasp land on a stinging nettle. Someone’s going to get hurt and you don’t care who.

  3. Maybe I’m confused, but the the Unruh act doesn’t include age in its list of things you can’t discriminate against. How does a “no kids” rule violate the Unruh act?

    • Civil Code section 51.2(a): “Section 51 shall be construed to prohibit a business establishment from discriminating in the sale or rental of housing based upon age.”

      Except in Riverside County, which interestingly, is where the resort is located. (A legislative sop to the many retirement communities in and around Palm Springs.)

      Parental status has also been linked to marital status, although that’s obviously a weaker sort of claim.

  4. This is a subject that is really hard to know the outcome of. A lot of this will just depend on how good both sides are in presenting their evidence and who is deciding the outcome.

    The outcome is supposed to be based on the laws but when the line is so blurry it could go either way.

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