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.
The primary purpose of AB 1732, or the Equal Restroom Access Act, is to combat gender identity discrimination. The bill requires all single-occupancy restrooms in businesses, government buildings, and public places to be available to everyone regardless of gender identity.
Enacting the law mostly amounts to changing the sign on a bathroom door to a gender-neutral symbol. However, the bill is intended to resolve larger issues of safety, fairness, and convenience for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. 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.
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.
AB 1732 now makes it mandatory for your business to establish any and all single-occupancy bathrooms as gender-neutral.
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.
The bill does not address multi-stall bathrooms, nor does it require any workplaces to add to existing facilities. If your workplace only provides multi-stall bathrooms, then this law does not affect your place of work.
Signed in 2003, the Gender Nondiscrimination Bill protects you if you want to use the facility that matches your gender identity. The pre-existing Gender Nondiscrimination Bill already protects your right to access facilities that match your gender identity.
In addition, it is illegal for your employer to ask you questions directed at identifying your gender identity. You must be allowed to use the facility that matches your gender identity without any questions asked.
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, you may want to contact local law enforcement.