Beginning on March 1, 2017, California employers and businesses will need to re-label any single-stall restroom facilities as available to users of either gender. Such facilities are required to be identified as “all gender” and be universally accessible.
This requirement stems from a September 29, 2016 bill signed by California Governor Jerry Brown, AB 1732, that backers say establishes the nation’s most inclusive restroom-access law. AB 1732 adds Section 118600 to the state’s Health and Safety Code, effective March 1, 2017. Section 118600 mandates that all single-user toilet facilities in any business establishment, place of public accommodation, or state or local government agency, including public educational entities, be identified as an all-gender toilet facility. A single-user toilet facility means a toilet facility with no more than one water closet and one urinal with a locking mechanism controlled by the user. AB 1732 requires signage to comply with the California Building Standards Code, found at Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations. Inspectors, building officials, or other local officials responsible for code enforcement are authorized to inspect for compliance with these provisions.
Employers should work with any property managers or landlords to be sure that workplaces are compliant by March 1, 2017 to avoid any inspection violations. The new law does not require employers to add single-occupancy restrooms, but merely changes signage and usage permissions for any already-existing single-occupancy facilities. While the law does not at this time provide for a private right of action for an employee or consumer who encounters a non-compliant restroom, failure to comply could be viewed as evidence of animus toward non-gender conforming individuals in any action brought by an employee or customer concerning discrimination or harassment. California law already prohibits discrimination against transgender people, including restrictions on the use of public restrooms. California employers would be wise to get out in front on this issue and ensure that any single-occupancy restrooms that they provide or that are on their premises comply with these signage requirements by March 1, 2017.