Mindy Memories

Friday, August 20, 2004

Private vs. Public restrooms in businesses

There's an article about a girl who went to Old Navy and needed to use the bathroom due to Crohn's Disease and the manager would not allow her to because it was not a public bathroom. The girl even had a card explaining her condition. This has created quite a stir on various boards I haunt.

Now, if I had been the manager I would have allowed for emergencies and let her use it. However, people need to realize that they do not all have the right to use a private bathroom in a business just because they walked in and asked, or even if they are buying something there. It is then their right to not buy from that store again.

I say this because I have worked in an independently-owned video store with a small employee-only bathroom. To get to the bathroom, one has to walk behind the counter, past the office where the safe is, past movies and various boxes and stuff, and then into the bathroom. Now, if I was by myself and let a person back there and then went to help a customer, who knows what coud happen? The person could come up behind me and rob me for what little there is in the register or in the safe, and the key was not there for the safe. The person also could have tripped (accidentally or on purpose) on something back there and sued me and/or the owner. Unfortunately, in this lawsuit-happy society, people have made it almost impossible for a person to do anything nice for fear of being sued. Of course, now I'm sure the Old Navy store will be sued for not being allowed to use the restroom, so you can't win.

To me this is a judgement call, and I believe the manager made the wrong choice. However, I don't know if he would have been fired for doing so. Some may say, "Fine! I would have quit, then!" Easy to say but not so easy to do when by quitting you will probably not get any unemployment benefits, and in this job market even retail jobs aren't that easy to come by.

Some will argue that because of this all businesses should be required to have public restrooms. Hello? Do you realize how much this will cost a small business owner, who will then be forced to extend those costs on to the consumer, who will then complain that the prices go up.

I feel horrible for the humiliation this girl suffered, and if it had been me I would have allowed her to use it. However, I don't believe this is grounds for legislation. Rather, it was a bad call by a manager, which happens all the time.


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