Can an employer refuse bathroom brakes to its workers over extended periods due to safety reasons?

I have a good friend working for an institution for girls with serious, dangerous mental and emotional illnesses. They must be monitored at all times but he’s the only employee they have and they often force him to work double shifts. The girls are not supposed to be left unattended for their own safety but forcing someone to work 16 hours without a bathroom brake is beyond ridiculous. What does the law say?

Asked on October 30, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Wyoming

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

As a general rule, a company can regulate bathroom breaks for no reason at all. The fact is that a work rule that seems unfair is not illegal unless it impacts a protected group disproportionately. Therefore, if the restriction on restroom breaks constitutes a form of discrimination then it may be illegal. For example, women may need such breaks when they are menstrating or when they are pregnant, older men may need such breaks due to prostate problems, or workers having a disability such as irritable bowel syndrome or the need to change a colostomy bag, would require that an employer would have to modify its limited bathroom breaks policy to accommodate the disability. That is unless it could show that doing so would be an undue hardship. At this point, you should consult directly with a local employment law attorney who can best advise you further once they have had the opportunity to review all of the facts of your case.

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

As a general rule, a company can regulate bathroom breaks for no reason at all. The fact is that a work rule that seems unfair is not illegal unless it impacts a protected group disproportionately. Therefore, if the restriction on restroom breaks constitutes a form of discrimination then it may be illegal. For example, women may need such breaks when they are menstrating or when they are pregnant, older men may need such breaks due to prostate problems, or workers having a disability such as irritable bowel syndrome or the need to change a colostomy bag, would require that an employer would have to modify its limited bathroom breaks policy to accommodate the disability. That is unless it could show that doing so would be an undue hardship. At this point, you should consult directly with a local employment law attorney who can best advise you further once they have had the opportunity to review all of the facts of your case.


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