California Unisex Single-Occupant Restroom Law Takes Effect

Author: Michael Cardman, XpertHR Legal Editor

March 1, 2017

California employers must identify single-user restrooms as being unisex under a new law that takes effect today, March 1, 2017.

Approved signage must be posted that identifies all restrooms with no more than one water closet and one urinal with a locking mechanism controlled by the user as being available to all genders. Specifically, there must be a geometric symbol on the door that is an equilateral triangle superimposed onto a circle. Any signs that designate single-user restrooms as male-only or female-only must be removed.

"Restricting access to single-user restrooms by gender defies common sense and disproportionately burdens the LGBT community, women, and parents or caretakers of dependents of the opposite gender," the bill's author, Assemblymember Phil Ting of San Francisco, said when it was signed into law last year. "Bathroom access is a biological need. This law will ensure more safety, fairness, and convenience access for everyone."

Ting cited a 2013 study by the UCLA Williams Institute that found 70% of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals face serious threats - including being verbally harassed, denied access or physically assaulted - when using gender-specific restrooms.