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OSHA’s Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers

Recently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers.  OSHA’s Sanitation standard requires that all employers under its jurisdiction provide employees with sanitary and available toilet facilities, so that employees will not suffer the adverse health effects that can result if toilets are not available when employees need them.

Best Practices for Restroom Access for Transgender Employees

According to the guidance, many companies have implemented policies to ensure that all employees â€" including transgender employees â€" have prompt access to appropriate sanitary facilities.  The core belief underlying these policies is that all employees should be permitted to use the facilities that correspond with their gender identity (i.e. a person who identifies as a woman should be permitted to use women’s restrooms).  However, according to the guidance, it is important for the employee to determine the most appropriate and safest option for him or herself.

Best policies offer additional, but not required, options employees may choose to use. These include:

  • Single-occupancy gender-neutral (unisex) facilities; and
  • Use of multiple-occupant, gender-neutral restroom facilities with lockable single occupant stalls.

Regardless of the physical layout of a worksite, according to OSHA’s guidance, all employers need to find solutions that are safe and convenient and respect transgender employees.  Under OSHA, employees generally may not be limited to using facilities thatare an unreasonable distance or travel time from the employee’s worksite.

Further, under these best practices:

  • Employees should not be asked to provide any medical or legal documentation of their gender identity in order to have access to gender-appropriate facilities.
  • No employee should be required to use a segregated facility apart from other employees because of their gender identity or transgender status.

Finally, it is important for employers to be aware of federal, state, and local laws, rules or regulations regarding restroom access, as well as the potential application of federal antidiscrimination laws.   For example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently ruled that a transgender employee cannot be denied access to the common restrooms used by other employees of the same gender identity, regardless of whether that employee has had any medical procedure or whether other employees’ may have negative reactions to allowing the employee to do so.

If you have any questions regarding this or any other OSHA guidance, please feel free to comment below or send us an email at[email protected] or reach us by phone toll-free at 855-427-0427.

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