OSHA guidelines expanding restroom access for transgender employees

Last year, OSHA issued a new health guideline that instructs employers to allow transgender employees to choose which restroom they want to use based on the gender they identify with.

TRI-CITIES, TN (WJHL) – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued health guidelines that instruct employers to allow transgender employees to choose which restroom they want to use based on the gender they identify with.

C.E.O. of Sesco (a human resource consulting firm based in Bristol, TN) Bill Ford told News Channel 11, if employers do not comply with the guideline, they could be served with a lawsuit.

“It could end up in an EEOC discrimination charge so there’s significant liability there,” said Ford.

Ford said several of his clients are worried that some people may try to use the guideline for their own, criminal purposes.

To avoid potential negative situations, Ford said many of his clients are changing their restrooms completely.

“In talking with clients over the past several weeks many clients are deciding to maybe go to a single use restroom,” said Ford.

Krsitin Plenger, a transgender woman, told News Channel 11 she chooses which restroom to use based on her personal safety.

“I’ll be out and the little doubts that you get in your mind of ‘are people going to perceive me as male or female?,’ which ones going to give me the most problems?” said Plenger.

Plenger said the guideline gives her a layer of protection.

Max Savage, a transgender male agreed.

“I always have the idea in my head, is it easier to just make myself uncomfortable and use the wrong restroom or possibly make someone who might harm me uncomfortable?” said Savage.

According to OSHA officials, the organization issued the guideline for health reasons. According to OSHA, employees need to be able to go to the bathroom without risk of harm.

Right now the guidelines only apply to the workplace.

But Ford said the guideline could extend to public restrooms in the very near future.

Copyright 2015 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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