Can I sue my employer regarding my ability to use the bathroom?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Can I sue my employer regarding my ability to use the bathroom?

I am the receptionist at a law firm. I cannot go to the bathroom without first getting someone to cover my desk. I have had bariatric surgery and have to go to the bathroom, often. However, there have been times where I cannot find someone to cover the desk because everyone is either gone or unavailable. Can I sue them for interfering with my disability bariatric-small stomach, lack of intestines or for forcing me to stay at my desk without having the ability to freely use the bathroom. Some days I get stomach pains because I have to wait for someone to cover me.

Asked on October 22, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, you cannot sue them, based on what you write. You don't indicate that they refuse to let you go generally--just that the desk must be covered. An employer's obligation regarding an employee's medical condition or needs is to make "reasonable accommodations" to them. It is reasonable to require a receptionist desk to be covered before the receptionist leaves it--that is simply the nature of the job. There will be times when coverage is temporarily unvailable, but that does not make the policy unreasonable, and so they are not guilty of not making a reasonable accommodation. You are not being discriminated against--you are the receptionist, and a receptionist job is different than, say, being IT or a copyeditor or file clerk or graphic artist, etc. People may be treated differently due to the demands of their job, and that is not illegal. If you are subject to frequent or urgent needs to go to the bathroom, than it is possible that you may need to look for a different job, one where you can leave the position uncovered at will or need.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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