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Cleaning Bathrooms

An employer had only one bathroom to be shared by 4-10 males and 1 female (two males were Auto Mechanics and the bathroom included lockers, etc. for their uniforms and lots of grease, and the female employee was an Admin Asst.) The female employee made many requests to hire a janitorial service, but management refused her requests. Since the bathroom was always filthy, the female employee began to clean it once a week. She asked other employees to take their turn, but nobody volunteered. So, she asked the manager to require all employees to take their turn. He refused and instead made jokes along with other male employees that it’s a female job and it would be racist to require certain hispanic employees to clean it because it goes against their culture! The female continued to clean it by herself. 1) Are employers required to provide clean bathrooms? 2) Is the manager sexually harassing the female employee?

Yes, OSHA standards require that employers provide bathrooms, and that they be kept in a sanitary condition. We cannot comment on this particular case without knowing more about it, but normally when a bathroom also serves as a locker room, there must be separate facilities for men and women.

While we understand why the female employee started cleaning the bathroom, it was probably a mistake. The business manager can argue that he did not require the female employee to clean the bathroom, she volunteered to do so. Also, if OSHA inspects, the bathrooms are now sanitary — because the female employee is keeping them clean. So this may not be discrimination or sexual harassment of the female employee. (The employer could even make it part of the Admins job to clean the bathrooms. As long as this rule applied to a male Admin, as well as a female Admin, it would not be discrimination.) The managers actions were sexist and unfair, but they probably do not meet the legal definition of discrimination (although his remarks about womens work might.)

However, the managers disparaging remarks about Hispanic employees certainly are discrimination and create a hostile work environment for Hispanic employees. An employee of any race can and should be offended by these remarks, and report them to the EEOC.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, December 28th, 2008 at 5:59 pm and is filed under
Human Resources Management, Workplace Health & Safety.
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2 Responses to “Cleaning Bathrooms”

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  2. Caitlin Says:

    Thanks for your input, Make!~ Caitlin

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