Why it matters

California employers, take note: the state's single-user restroom law took effect on March 1, 2017. The new law requires all single-user toilet facilities in any business establishment, place of public accommodation or government agency to be identified as available to all genders. Approved signage for such a restroom should feature an equilateral triangle superimposed onto a circle and acceptable designation sign text includes: "All-Gender Restroom," "Restroom" and "Unisex Restroom." The law also authorizes inspectors, building officials or other local officials responsible for code enforcement to inspect restrooms for compliance.

Detailed discussion

After passing the State Senate by a vote of 28 to 7 and the Assembly in a vote of 57 to 18, California Governor Edmund G. Brown signed AB 1732 into law last September. Pursuant to the law, which took effect March 1, all single-user toilet facilities in any business establishment, place of public accommodation, or state or local government agency must be identified as all-gender toilet facilities with signage that complies with state code, and designated for use by no more than one occupant at a time or for family or assisted use.

The law defined "single-user toilet facility" as one "with no more than one water closet and one urinal with a locking mechanism controlled by the user." Authored by Assembly member Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), the measure was triggered by a study from the UCLA Williams Institute that found 70 percent of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals face serious threats when using gender-specific restrooms.

In a bulletin, the Division of the State Architect (DSA) provided guidance for covered entities to comply with the new state law requirements. For example, the bulletin notes that California Building Code Chapter 11B requires that a sanitary facility not specifically identified as for "men" or "women" should have a geometric symbol on the door in the form of an equilateral triangle superimposed onto a circle. If a designation sign is provided on the wall next to the facility, the bulletin offered three text examples: "All-Gender Restroom," "Restroom" and "Unisex Restroom."

If a wall-mounted designation sign will be provided, then it should feature raised text and corresponding braille, although the DSA recommended that no imagery or pictogram be included. "When changing identification symbols of existing single-user toilet facilities from gender specific to all-gender, DSA advises against providing a pictogram to represent an all-gender image on a designation sign or unisex symbol," according to the bulletin. "The pictogram might be perceived as inappropriate, and in fact, DSA reminds facility owners that a pictogram is not required."

To read the AB 1732, click here.

To read the DSA bulletin, click here.