On November 19, 2015, Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter signed legislation making it illegal for public restrooms in city-owned buildings, as well as in privately-owned restaurants, hotels and other businesses with public restrooms, to have signs identifying single-occupancy bathrooms as for "men" or "women." The new law, however, does not affect bathrooms with multi-stall or multi-occupant bathrooms. In signing the legislation, Mayor Nutter stated, "This legislation expands and strengthens gender-identity protections and is an important step in support of our LGBT community, especially our transgender community members." All signage on applicable bathroom facilities must be changed by January 20, 2016, the legislation’s effective date.
The law will be enforced by the City of Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections. Those establishments that do not change their signs face fines ranging from $75 up to $2,000 if they refuse to comply. Moreover, any establishments that do not comply can be reported via social media using the #freetophl hashtag. Individuals who encounter a non-compliant establishment can also report the violation to the Mayor’s Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs. Discriminatory practices should also be reported to the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.
Philadelphia is among the first major U.S. cities to implement this kind of policy. In 2006, Washington became the first city to require single-occupancy bathrooms be gender-neutral; Austin, Texas, and West Hollywood, California have since enacted similar laws.
For more information regarding how your business can implement this change as well as ensure compliance with OSHA’s Guidance For Transgender Bathroom Access, please contact Dina M. Mastellone, Esq., Director of the firm’s Human Resources Practice Group, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 973-533-0777.