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What OSHA has to say about restroom access for transgender employees

On Behalf of | Jun 4, 2015 | Workplace Discrimination |

While many of us take things like reasonable access to a workplace restroom for granted, the reality is that this might prove to be something of a difficult issue for a transgender co-worker who might find their access to workplace restrooms either limited or unclear.

In an attempt to help rectify this situation, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a best practices document earlier this week and its progressive stance is being lauded by advocacy groups everywhere.

According to OSHA, all transgender employees, meaning those who identify with a gender that is different than that assigned at birth, should have access to workplace restrooms that “correspond to their gender identity.”

Indeed, OSHA points out that employer policies requiring transgender workers to use restrooms that are inconsistent with their gender identity or restricting their bathroom options to a few specific restrooms can make them feel both isolated and worried about their physical safety.

Furthermore, the agency argues that these types of arrangements could result in transgender employees forgoing the use of restroom facilities altogether, something that could result in a serious injury or illness.

As to what constitutes an ideal policy for employers, OSHA points to those that simply allow all employees to use the “most appropriate and safest option,” such that those who identify as women can use women’s restrooms while those who identify as men can use men’s restrooms.      

It also indicates that ideal policies never ask transgender workers to provide any sort of legal or medical documentation setting forth their gender identity as a prerequisite for restroom use, and might also call for the creation of gender-neutral restrooms with lockable single stalls.

It’s worth noting that OSHA takes the time to point out to those employers perhaps not interested in complying with this guidance that federal and state laws have endorsed the position that the nation’s estimated 700,000 transgender people should have unfettered access to the necessary restrooms based on their gender identification.

It’s important for any employee who feels that they have been victimized by workplace discrimination of any kind here in Florida to consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible to learn more about their protections under the law.