Assemblywoman Paulin's Legislation to Improve Restroom Access for Individuals with Gastrointestinal Diseases Passes Both Houses

July 27, 2020

Albany, NY Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale) announces the passage of two bills, A.8821 and A.8146, which will make it easier for individuals with Crohn’s disease and other gastrointestinal diseases to access restrooms when needed. The bills now await the Governor’s signature.

Crohn’s disease is an ongoing disorder of the gastro-intestinal tract. It causes swelling of the intestines, creating pain and diarrhea. People who suffer from such diseases often need urgent and sudden access to a toilet facility.

The two measures build upon the 2017 law authored by Paulin, “The Crohn’s and Colitis Fairness Act,” which made it possible for those who suffer from an eligible gastrointestinal medical condition to access an employee-only restroom in a place of business.

The first measure clarifies that those who have been denied the use of an employee restroom in violation of the law can file a complaint with their local consumer protection bureau, through the New York State Department of State, or with the New York Attorney General’s Office. This will make clear that these entities have the authority and the duty to accept and handle complaints.

The second measure directs the New York State Department of Health to create an ID card for eligible individuals. While the ID is not required in order to access a restroom, it will make it easier for individuals to discreetly request to use the restroom and facilitate compliance by businesses.

“Since the Crohn’s and Colitis Fairness Act became law in 2017, my office has heard from people who have been denied access to a restroom because employees at businesses were confused about the law or did not believe it was a legitimate request,” said Paulin. “The ID card is a small way that we can decrease the burden on people with Crohn’s and similar conditions and make it easier for them to exercise their legal right to use the restroom. If a business doesn’t comply, there is a clear avenue for filing complaints. No one should be forced to endure a humiliating situation simply because they have a medical condition over which they have no control.”

Senator Simcha Felder sponsored both bills in the Senate.