Businesses would face a $250 fine if they barred a customer with a legitimate medical reason from using an employee restroom.
This bill focuses on businesses that lack a public restroom but do have a bathroom for employees. It would require businesses to let customers use that restroom, if they show documented proof of a qualifying medical condition. Those conditions include Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome or “any other medical condition that requires immediate access to a restroom.”
Rhode Island State Rep. Mia Ackerman sponsors the bill -- called the Restroom Access Act. She says she introduced it after hearing from a constituent with IBS who was denied access to an employee restroom. Things got worse from there.
"It's unfortunate that we have to legislate human compassion," Ackerman said, "but unfortunately we do."
Similar laws exist in more than a dozen other states. The bill is currently before the House Health, Education and Welfare committee.