New York Enacts Law Requiring Single Occupancy Restrooms Be Gender-Neutral

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On December 23, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed into law Assembly Bill A5240A (“Law”), amending the State’s Civil Rights Law and Education Law to make all single-occupancy bathrooms located in public places, including schools, restaurants, bars, and other establishments, gender-neutral. The Law closely mirrors a similar New York City law passed in 2016, and marks a step toward equal access to public space for transgender and gender nonconforming individuals across the State.

Much like its New York City counterpart, the Law does not require businesses or schools to build new gender-neutral, single-occupancy restrooms. Rather, existing single-occupancy bathrooms must remove any signage designating the bathroom as “male” or “female” and replace it with signage indicating it is open to people of all genders.

The Law goes into effect on March 23, 2021. Employers located in New York should prepare by ensuring all on premise single-occupancy restrooms are clearly designated as gender-neutral (while also taking care to provide signage that complies with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as other applicable state and local laws).

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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