Transgender employees should have access to the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity, according to the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) new guidance it issued for employers.

The National Center for Transgender Equality requested OSHA develop the 4-page “Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers” to ensure transgender employees are able to work in a manner that is consistent with how they live the rest of their daily lives.
According to the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, OSHA said an estimated 700,000 adults in the U.S. are transgender — meaning their internal gender identity is different from the sex listed on their birth certificate.

“Restricting employees to using only restrooms that are not consistent with their gender identity, or segregating them from other workers by requiring them to use gender-neutral or other specific restrooms, singles those employees out and may make them fear for their physical safety,” the guidance says. “Bathroom restrictions can result in employees avoiding using restrooms entirely while at work, which can lead to potentially serious physical injury or illness.”

Single-occupancy gender-neutral or unisex facilities

In describing best practices, OSHA said many companies have implemented written policies to ensure that all employees have prompt access to appropriate sanitary facilities and are given additional options, including use of a single-occupancy gender-neutral or unisex facility or use of multiple-occupant, gender-neutral restroom facility with lockable single-occupant stalls.

“Regardless of the physical layout of a work site, all employers need to find solutions that are safe and convenient and respect transgender employees,” the guidance says. In its guidance, OSHA also lists federal, state and local laws that reaffirm the principle of providing employees with access to restroom facilities based on gender identification.