OSHA issues guidance on restroom access for transgender workers

Last week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration released new guidelines for private businesses concerning restroom use for transgender employees. In these guidelines, OSHA stresses that "all employees should be permitted to use the facilities that correspond with their gender identity." This is a major change, as many employers require transgender employees to use the bathrooms corresponding to their legal documentation or current physical sex. However, doing so may make the employee feel unwelcome or unsafe and may even result in the employee refusing to use the restroom at work at all. According to OSHA: "The employee should determine the most appropriate and safest option for him- or herself."

The new guidelines also promote the inclusion of gender-neutral bathrooms in addition to a change in policy, however these are not required.

The guidelines state that employers should not require any medical or legal documentation of their gender identities in order to use the gender-appropriate facilities. This is especially significant, as many places may make it difficult to obtain such documentation, and many doctors may still be against providing such, despite their patient's insistence.

With these guidelines, OSHA acknowledges that "it is essential for employees to be able to work in a manner consistent with how they live the rest of their daily lives, based on their gender identity."