OSHA issues guidelines about transgender bathroom accesss
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced new guidelines on June 1, 2015, for restroom access for transgender workers. The guidelines, which are not official standards or regulations, set out OSHA’s best practices for employers with transgender employees. These best practices include having written policies to ensure that all employees—regardless of gender—have prompt access to appropriate sanitary facilities that correspond with the employee’s gender identity.
The OSHA guidelines make it clear that it is the employee, and not the employer, who should determine the most appropriate and safest option in choosing a restroom. Additionally, OSHA recommends employers provide additional restroom options such as single-occupancy, gender-neutral facilities or multiple-occupant, gender-neutral facilities with lockable single occupant stalls. It should be the employee’s decision to use these additional facilities—not a requirement of the employer. And, lastly, employers are reminded that OSHA standards provide that employers may not limit employees to using restrooms that are an unreasonable distance from the employee’s worksite.
These guidelines are consistent with the proactive stance of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has taken on issues affecting transgender employees. See this discussion about how the EEOC responded to claims by a transgender employee regarding restricted restroom access.
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