By Jordan B. Schwartz and Eric J. Conn
The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) have long enforced accessibility and sanitation standards for restrooms for workers and the public – an idea that generally makes sense viewed as a health and safety concern. In the last few years, however, new policies at the state and federal levels on transgender issues mean all employers must pay particular attention to rules and enforcement regarding access to restrooms.
Indeed, OSHA has now found a way into the highly political and social issue of transgender equality by making its own policy pronouncements on access by workers to restrooms of the gender with which they identify. In 2015, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels explained the Agency’s position on this when he unveiled a new OSHA Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers, he said:
“The core principle is that all employees, including transgender employees, should have access to restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.”
The emergence of bathroom issues from a legal and regulatory standpoint is not limited to the transgender issue. This article addresses the complexities of this subject and how it affects regulatory compliance and employment law liabilities.
Transgender Issues from an Employment Law Perspective
There are numerous employment law obligations for employers in the transgender area. Title VII, for example, prohibits discrimination based on sex, which includes treating employees differently for failing to conform to sexual stereotypes. The Attorney General has issued a memorandum expressing that Title VII specifically prohibits discrimination because Continue reading