By Toni Halleen |
Which bathroom should transgender employees use? This is a hot topic in the news and in the law. Many agencies and courts (and even President Obama) are weighing in on this question. Is restroom access an issue of workplace safety and employee health? What does OSHA say?
For years, employers have been required under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) to (1) provide employees with access to sanitary toilet facilities, and (2) not to unreasonably restrict access to those facilities. The OSHA “sanitation standard” did not address gender identity.
Recently, however, the OSH Administration issued a “Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers.” The core principle underlying the Guide is that transgender workers should be able to use the restroom they choose based on their gender identity, not their gender assigned at birth.
While not mandatory, the “best practices” in the Guide suggest:
- Employers should provide gender-neutral bathrooms with either single use or lockable stalls;
- Workers should not be asked to provide medical or legal documentation of gender identity; and
- Workers should not be sent to use a segregated facility because of transgender status
OSHA’s Guide, which is available at www.osha.gov will likely carry weight in the ongoing national discussion of access to restrooms by transgender workers.
Engaging others is what inspires Toni Halleen. With over 25 years of employment law experience, Toni segued her impressive corporate career into the management and administration of the highly regarded law firm of Schaefer Halleen. Prior to becoming an owner of Schaefer Halleen, Toni spent 11 years at The General Counsel, Ltd. (The “GCL”). Before that, Toni spent five years as an in-house employment lawyer for a leading telecommunications firm, and an additional eight years practicing employment law at one of the Twin Cities’ top law firms.