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The Law About Bathroom Breaks At Work

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - There is, surprisingly, a lot of law on bathroom breaks. Here’s what you need to know when nature calls.

The family of a Maryland bridge repair worker sued his employer after he fell to his death in what can only be described as possibly the most embarrassing way to go: so to speak. He’d gone to relieve himself off the side of the bridge and accidentally plunged to his death. Most people say they’re dying for a bathroom break, this poor guy really did.

Restroom breaks are covered by both labor laws, which talk about the length, timing, and payment for breaks and occupational safety and health regulations.

To the question of whether you’re paid for bathroom breaks, state laws differ (so check out dol.gov/whd/state/rest.htm to see the law in your state on that). But federal occupational safety regulations are clear that your employer is required to provide employees with toilet facilities separated for each sex in all places of employment so employees will not suffer adverse health effects that can result if toilets are not available when employees need them.

If you don’t work in an office, the law knows that you’ll need to have a safe place to go when nature calls, so let your employer know you’ll leak it to OSHA if safe facilities are not provided.