Transgender issues are more and more in the spotlight, especially with Bruce Jenner publicly transitioning to Caitlyn Jenner recently. The Williams Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles has estimated that approximately 700,000 adults in the United States are transgender, which means that their internal gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.
That is a considerable number and It is important for employers to understand the needs of transgender employees and provide appropriate accommodations for them, specifically related to restroom access. Last month, OSHA released new guidelines regarding restroom access by a transgender worker to ensure that all are provided adequate sanitary and toilet facilities. The purpose of OSHA is to assure that employers provide a safe and healthy working environment for all employees.
The four-page guide explains gender identity and the importance of providing an environment where employees can work in a manner consistent with how they live their daily lives. The guidelines also explain that appropriate restroom access is a health and safety issue.
Many employers create written policies related to this issue. If you do not currently have a written policy, here are some suggestions regarding what to include:
- Do not require employees to produce any written documents, legal or medical, regarding their gender identity.
- Provide all employees with access to bathroom facilities that correspond to their gender identity.
- Give employees the most prudent option for themselves.
- Provide alternative options and their locations that are not unreasonably far from the employees’ work areas.
- Make gender neutral bathrooms available that can be individually secured.
There are local, state and federal laws and regulations that relate to bathroom access, as well as discrimination laws. Employers should be familiar with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Equal Employee Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA).
Please click here to view OSHA’s Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers.
Click here to view additional information from the National Center for Transgender Equality.