Where Do Transgender Employees Use the Restroom? OSHA Chimes In.

Beth Dean 08.19.15
57 Brown Tone Desktop Imac

Although recent media attention has brought transgender matters to the forefront, one question that employers have been asking for a long time is where transgender employees should use the restroom. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently provided best practices for employers from a safety standpoint.

In short, an employee should have access to the restroom that corresponds to his or her gender identity, whether that identity is physically manifested or not.

Example: An employee was born male, but identifies as female. No medical steps have yet been taken to physically transition to female. The employee would have access to utilize the women’s restroom since it corresponds with her gender identity, which is female. Ultimately, though, the employee would use the restroom in which she feels the most comfortable. The supervisor takes no part in this decision, other than ensuring that the employee is safe and uninhibited from utilizing the restroom of her choice.

From OSHA’s standpoint, employee safety is the dominating concern. Under OSHA’s sanitation standard (1910.141), employers must provide unrestricted, sanitary, and promptly accessible restroom facilities to employees. Restricting the use of restrooms or segregating employees to gender-neutral or other employer-dictated facilities may make transgender employees feel singled out, physically unsafe, or can lead to health problems and infections that arise by not having prompt access to a restroom.

Making a gender-neutral restroom available is not unreasonable, but mandating that certain employees only use that designated facility is. 

The key difference is that the employee is independently able to use the restroom(s) of his or her choice.

As a reminder, gender-based discrimination includes Title VII protections for transgender people under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Denying an employee access to a restroom based on his or her gender is discriminatory therefore violates both Title VII and the employees right to a safe workplace under OSHA.

For human resource guidance on ensuring a safe and discrimination-free environment at your workplace, please contact Nextep’s HR team.

Also on Nextep

Several states and local jurisdictions will increase their minimum wage rates on July 1, 2024. Below is a summary of these changes and guidelines to help you comply with your minimum wage requirements.  As a reminder, when federal and state or local payroll laws differ, the employer must adhere to the law that benefits the […]
Read more
Get ready for changes! As of July 1, 2024, a new wave of state laws are set to go into effect across the country. These updates impact everything from worker protections and minimum wage to important regulations for businesses. Whether you’re an employer, employee, or simply a resident staying informed, this article will guide you […]
Read more
A Game Changer for Employers The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently made a significant change regarding employers’ use of non-compete agreements. The final rule issued by the FTC prohibits the use of non-compete agreements for many workers, which is a departure from the longstanding practices of many companies. This decision is already facing legal challenges, […]
Read more
Key Points for Employers About the Latest Harassment Guidance The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recently updated its guidelines on workplace harassment enforcement. This was the EEOC’s first update in more than 30 years. The updates are intended to clarify and modernize existing standards. These changes take into account recent legal developments and the […]
Read more
What You Need to Know About PWFA The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released the final regulations for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). These regulations, taking effect on June 18, 2024, update the PWFA rules put into place in 2023 and significantly impact how employers with at least 15 employees accommodate workers with […]
Read more
When Addiction Strikes at Work The issue of addiction in the workplace presents a complex challenge for both employers and employees. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects qualified individuals with disabilities, but active addiction itself isn’t necessarily covered. Here’s a breakdown of rights and responsibilities: Employee Rights Under the ADA Generally Not Covered: The […]
Read more
What is Considered “Reasonable”? What happens when an employee with a disability needs an adjustment to perform their job effectively? This is where reasonable accommodations come in. However, the question often arises: what exactly is considered “reasonable” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? Striking a Balance The key is to find a balance between […]
Read more
It’s time for an ADA refresher! The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a cornerstone of civil rights legislation, ensuring equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities. As an employer, understanding your obligations under the ADA is crucial. Here’s a breakdown of the key points: What qualifies as a disability? The ADA defines a person […]
Read more
Forced to listen? Imagine this: Your boss calls a mandatory meeting. Instead of discussing work tasks, they spend the time telling you why you should support a political candidate or a particular religious view. That’s a captive audience meeting, and it’s becoming a hot-button issue. A captive audience meeting is a mandatory work meeting where […]
Read more
At some point during the election cycle, you may encounter employees wanting to display political propaganda at work.  This can range from flags and posters to social media posts and even conversations, and it can create a tense and uncomfortable atmosphere for colleagues with differing viewpoints. So, how do you maintain a respectful workplace while […]
Read more
As a presidential election year unfolds, employers must navigate the complex landscape of voting leave laws to uphold employees’ rights while ensuring compliance with state regulations. While federal law does not mandate time off to vote, many states have enacted specific provisions. Here’s what employers need to know to navigate this terrain effectively. Understanding State […]
Read more
An Employer’s Guide to Politics in the Workplace The current political climate can be divisive, and tension can easily spill over into the workplace. When employees hold vastly different political views, it can lead to arguments, hurt feelings, and a fractured work environment. So, what’s an employer’s responsibility when it comes to politics in the […]
Read more

Download Our App


Download the Nextep Mobile App in Apple iOS or Google Play