Legal Aspects of Bathroom Access Laws for California Businesses

On March 1, 2017, California’s Equal Restroom Access Act went into effect and many businesses are scurrying to determine if the new law covers their facilities and, if so, what must be done to ensure compliance.

New Law Applies to All Single-User Toilet Facilities

Under the new law, all single-user toilet facilities within a business establishment, place of public accommodation, or state or local government agency must be identified as all-gender toilet facilities. Specifically, a single-user toilet is:

•  A toilet facility with no more than one water closet and one urinal

•  With a locking mechanism controlled by the user

Any restroom that has those characteristics must now have a sign outside indicating that the restroom is for all genders. If a business has two restrooms, both of which are single-user toilets, then both such restrooms must be identified and labeled as all-gender toilet facilities.

California Law is Consistent with OSHA Rules

Employers and businesses should recall that OSHA’s Sanitation standard requires employers to provide their employees with toilet facilities. The standard is part of a larger health concern – that employees who have inadequate access to restrooms are subject to serious health issues, such as urinary tract infections and bowel and bladder problems. Not only must access to restrooms be available under OSHA rules, such availability must be prompt and sanitary. Moreover, employers may not impose unreasonable restrictions on employee use of toilet facilities.

Unrestricted Restroom Access is Not a New Idea

While the issue has become controversial in some parts of the country, providing unrestricted restroom access is no new idea. Anyone who has traveled on a commercial airplane recognizes that the restroom facilities are not restricted by gender. The same is true generally for restrooms in homes and many small businesses. Portable restrooms that are required for most construction projects are not gender specific.

Restricted Restroom Access Causes Other Problems

State officials have noted for some time now that placing too many restrictions on restroom access cause significant issues for the public. For example, when out in public, children of a different gender than their caretakers and people with disabilities who rely on caretakers of a different gender often have no choice but to break social norms when the only available restroom is designated to a specific gender. The new California law is designed to reduce the problems associated with this issue.

California Law Should Benefit Everyone

While much of the publicity surrounding the new Access Act relates to transgender and gender nonconforming persons, most experts indicate the new law will promote bathroom equity for everyone, regardless of gender.

CKB Vienna LLP – Experienced Commercial Law Attorneys and Advisors

Some business owners worry that the regulatory world is just too confusing and that the changing maze of rules that must be followed takes too much time and attention. Many turn to experienced commercial attorneys for assistance. For years now, CKB VIENNA LLP has represented all sorts of businesses in many types of legal and regulatory environments. As business attorneys, we keep up with the latest requirements so that the business owner can keep his or her attention on business. Our team understands the complexity of the issues and stands ready to represent you aggressively. We have offices in Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles. Contact us by telephone – 909.980.1040 – or complete our online form.