According to the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Transgender Restroom Access Guidelines, transgender employees should have access to the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity. OSHA stressed failing to provide transgender employees with restrooms consistent with their gender identity can prevent them from using bathrooms at all, which can lead to health issues like urinary tract infections and bladder problems. Therefore, the National Center for Transgender Equality requested OSHA to develop the 4-page “Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers” to ensure transgender employees are able to work in a manner that is consistent with how they live the rest of their daily lives.
OSHA 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. According to the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, OSHA said an estimated 700,000 adults in the United States are transgender — meaning their internal gender identity is different from the sex listed on their birth certificate.
“Restricting employees to using only restrooms that are not consistent with their gender identity, or segregating them from other workers by requiring them to use gender-neutral or other specific restrooms, singles those employees out and may make them fear for their physical safety,” the guidance says. “Bathroom restrictions can result in employees avoiding using restrooms entirely while at work, which can lead to potentially serious physical injury or illness.”
In describing best practices, OSHA said many companies have implemented written policies to ensure that all employees have prompt access to appropriate sanitary facilities and are given additional options, including use of a single-occupancy gender-neutral or unisex facility or use of multiple-occupant, gender-neutral restroom facility with lockable single-occupant stalls.
“Regardless of the physical layout of a worksite, all employers need to find solutions that are safe and convenient and respect transgender employees,” the guidance says.