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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year 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.


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