In California, Single-User Restrooms must be All-Gender

Effective March 1, 2017, all single-user restrooms in California businesses, government buildings, and places of public accommodation must be “all-gender” (or gender neutral) to comply with the State’s Equal Restroom Access Act (the Act). The Act applies to employers in California and requires specific signage be displayed to indicate the restroom is all-gender.

California Law

The Act was signed by Governor Brown on September 29, 2016, at a time when national attention was on a bill passed in North Carolina that denied  bathroom access in government buildings on the basis of an individual’s sex at the time of birth. The Act now takes effect amid heightened national concern over restroom access for transgender individuals, with the U.S. Supreme Court set to soon hear a case concerning restroom access in public schools. California’s law seeks to ensure equal access for all genders to single-user restrooms in the State.

Next Steps for Employers

Employers are not required to provide an all-gender restroom, but any single-user restroom facility is required to be all-gender. For employers who provide single-user restrooms, whether to the public or limited strictly to employees, the signage on the restroom must be updated to meet the Act’s specifications no later than March 1. The signage must comply with the California Building Standards Code and must identify the restroom as being accessible to persons of all genders. The Act also authorizes inspectors, building officials, and other local officials responsible for code enforcement to inspect for compliance of the Act, though no penalty for non-compliance is specified.

Information regarding the types of signage that employers may use to comply with the Act can be found here.