California Assembly Bill 1732, also known as California’s “bathroom bill,” was signed by Governor Jerry Brown in September 2016 and enacted on March 1, 2017. Here’s how the new law will impact workplace rules, and protect and benefit employees working in California.
AB 1732: The Equal Restroom Access Act
What is California AB 1732?
The primary purpose of AB 1732, or the Equal Restroom Access Act, is to combat gender identity discrimination by making it mandatory for all single-occupancy restrooms (“a toilet facility with no more than one water closet and one urinal with a locking mechanism controlled by the user”) in businesses, government buildings, and public places to be available to everyone, regardless of gender identity.
While enacting the law mostly amounts to changing the sign on a bathroom door to a gender-neutral symbol, the bill resolves larger issues of safety, fairness, and convenience for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals by eliminating single-gender restrooms in these places. It protects people from harassment and violence by making single-occupancy restrooms accessible to everyone. The law also helps parents and caretakers who want to accompany children of the opposite sex in the bathroom.
What Does AB 1732 Mean for the Workplace?
The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has considered it to be best practice for workplaces to provide gender-neutral single-occupancy restrooms for all employees since 2015. What’s more, AB 1732 makes it required for your business to make any and all single-occupancy bathrooms gender-neutral.
How Will AB 1732 Affect Employees?
If you work in a business, a place of public accommodation, or a state or local government agency, then all single-occupancy restrooms in your workplace will become gender-neutral. This means that if you identify as transgender or gender non-conforming, then you will be able to use any single-occupancy restroom at your workplace. AB 1732 eliminates the safety, convenience, and fairness concerns that you may face using these facilities at your workplace.
What AB 1732 Does Not Do
The bill does not address multi-stall bathrooms, nor does it require any workplaces to add to existing facilities, so if your workplace only provides multi-stall bathrooms, then this law does not affect your place of work.
What is the Gender Nondiscrimination Bill?
Signed in 2003, the Gender Nondiscrimination Bill protects you if you want to use the facility that matches your gender identity. While AB 1732 requires employers at businesses to make all single-occupancy restrooms gender neutral, the pre-existing Gender Nondiscrimination Bill already protects you from not having access to facilities that match your gender identity. In addition, it is illegal for your employer to ask you questions directed at identifying your gender identity, so you must be allowed to use the facility that matches your gender identity without any questions asked.
AB 1732 and Employer Non-Compliance
If you work in a business, a place of public accommodation, or a state or local government agency, and your employer has not changed the signage on all single-occupancy restrooms to signify that they are gender-neutral, then your employer has violated AB 1732. Inspectors, building officials, and other officials responsible for code enforcement will be responsible for ensuring that your employer has abided by the law, and violations will be handled at the local level. If you feel that the law has been violated, then you may want to contact local law enforcement.
Los Angeles Gender Identity Discrimination Lawyers
If your employer has subjected you to gender identity discrimination in the workplace, do not hesitate to reach out to our Los Angeles employment lawyers at Hennig Ruiz for a free consultation.