Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Single-User Restrooms Must Now Allow Use by All Genders in California

Last Wednesday, California’s Equal Restroom Act went into effect. The law requires all single-user restrooms to have a sign stating that they are open to all genders. Compliance with the law will be enforced by local building inspectors.

The California legislature described the law as “the nation’s most progressive restroom access policy among the states.” The sponsor of the bill noted that it stands in opposition to the 19 states who have passed or are considering passing laws that require people to use the bathroom of their biological gender. “Restricting access to single-user restrooms by gender defies common sense and disproportionately burdens the LGBT community, women, and parents or caretakers of dependents of the opposite gender,” the bill’s sponsor noted.

The Equal Restroom Act takes effect as the Trump Administration recently pulled federal guidance on transgender students’ bathroom use. This guidance, issued by the Obama Administration last year, encouraged school districts to allow students to use the bathroom aligned with their gender identity, and not their biological gender. The Trump Administration withdrew the letter because it believed that this was an issue that should be decided by the states, not the federal government.

Undoubtedly, a number of states will continue to pass legislation requiring businesses to maintain bathrooms that accommodate the transgendered. Illinois may be one of these states, as it generally takes its lead from progressive states like California, so it would not be surprising to see a similar law introduced into the Illinois General Assembly in the near future. Stay tuned to our blog for updates on this and other legislation that might affect employers.