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The WOMEN'S RIGHTS Handbook is intended to provide the general public with a basic understanding of the rights of women in California. This handbook describes both California and federal laws that deal with issues important to most women. This handbook is not meant to be used in the place of a qualified attorney. If you feel that your rights have been violated, you should seek qualified legal assistance. For information on how to find an attorney, see the "Directory of Services" at the back of this book.

The handbook is divided into eight chapters which discuss the legal rights of the women of California - - employment, economic independence, education, housing, health care, domestic relations, childcare and violent crime, and a directory of services. Each chapter discusses your rights with respect to the designated topic, and provides information on where you can seek help if you feel that your rights have been violated.

The directory is an extended resource section that provides information on a wide range of resources available to women in California. The directory is not a complete list of every women's organization in California. However, many of the organizations listed can help by referring you to an organization that will address your specific question or problem.

To provide a comprehensive overview of women's rights, this handbook discusses both California and federal laws relating to women. Where appropriate, citations to statutes, regulations, court cases and opinions of the California Attorney General are provided. Below is an explanation of the various citations you will see throughout the book.

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Statutes are laws passed by legislators either in the state Legislature or in the national Congress. Statutes are generally short and do not describe in detail how the law will been forced.

Examples of statutes are:

  • 42 U.S.C. § 2000
  • Gov. Code, § 12940

The first citation is to a federal statute. It refers to a statute that can be found in the 42nd volume of the United States Code, beginning at section 2000.

The second citation is a California statute. It refers to a statute that can be found in the California Government Code, section 12940. If the "12940" were followed by the term"et seq.," it would be a citation to section 12940 and the following sections.

Laws are constantly changing, so there are updated supplements in the back of both the federal and state code books.

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Various government agencies are often charged with developing regulations to carry out the mandates of particular statutes. These regulations describe in greater detail how the statutes are to be enforced.

Examples of regulations are:

  • 29 C.F.R. § 1608
  • Cal. Code Regs., tit.10 § 2560.3

The first citation is to the 29th volume of the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.)beginning at section 1608.

The second citation is to Title 10 of the California Code of Regulations, section 2560.3. The California Code of Regulations was previously called the California Administrative Code and may still be cited that way in some places.

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Courts of law make decisions about whether certain actions constitute a violation of the law, and whether or not particular laws are constitutional. The United States Supreme Court is the highest court in the country, and the California Supreme Court is the highest court in the state. Most cases cited in this handbook are cases that were decided by one of those two courts.

Examples of case citations are:

  • Wygant v. Jackson Board of Education (1986) 476 U.S. 267.
    Gay Law Students Assn. v. Pacific Tel. & Tel. Co. (1979) 24 Cal.3d 458.

Wygant was a case decided by the United States Supreme Court in 1986. It can be found in volume 476 of the United States Reports beginning on page 267.
Gay Law Students Assn. was a case decided by the California Supreme Court in 1979. It can be found in volume 24 of the California Reports, Third Series, beginning at page 458.

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Finally, there are occasional references in this handbook to opinions of the California Attorney General. Opinions of the Attorney General are opinions written by the Attorney General's office in response to questions by state legislators or other public officials or agencies about the legality of a particular object or action. Opinions of the Attorney General are solely an indication of the likelihood of the legality of an object or action. Only the courts can actually make such decisions. The opinions of the California Attorney General do not have the force of law.

An example of an opinion of the Attorney General is:

  • 69 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 80. (1986)

This opinion can be found in the 69th volume of the Opinions of the California Attorney General, beginning on page 80. It was issued in 1986.

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