On Tuesday, June 28, Mayor Bill De Blasio signed legislation that requires all publicly accessible single-occupancy restrooms in New York City to become gender-neutral. The bill, passed by the New York City Council (“Council”) in a 47-2 vote on June 21, will require all covered establishments to replace any gender-specific signage on single-occupancy restrooms with new signage indicating that the restrooms may be used by all individuals.
Details on the new signage will be determined through a rule-making process and new signs must be posted by January 1, 2017. In the interim, some establishments have replaced their single-occupancy restroom’s gender-specific signage with a temporary sign depicting the universal female, male, and transgender symbols, followed by clear language designating the restroom available to any person regardless of gender identity or expression (see image of signage).
The new law will not affect single-sex bathrooms with multiple stalls. A Council spokeswoman anticipates that a violation of this law will carry a penalty of up to $500. Employers can prepare for changes under this law by replacing their single-occupancy restroom’s gender-specific signs with gender-neutral signs (see image of signage); educating employees on the new law; training employees, but particularly managers and frontline staff, on compliance with the law; and updating or creating policies to ensure compliance with the law.
This article contains highlights of the legislation and is not intended to be legal advice.