What if you need to use the facilities and you are refused by a local business? Can you legally be refused the use of a restroom? One South Carolina man is suing to get an answer to these questions.
He says he was refused the use of restrooms at five different gas and convenience stores in his neighborhood. He claims it is because he is handicapped and an African American. So, he’s filed a discrimination lawsuit. An investigation by his attorneys has confirmed the alleged discrimination, and the man is suing for $5 million.
Businesses are not necessarily required to offer restrooms for the general public, however, most large stores and restaurants do offer the accommodation for paying patrons. The issue is governed by state and local regulations and laws.
Most state and local laws allow businesses to limit the use of their bathrooms to paying customers as they must be careful not to run afoul of discrimination laws. Starbucks has been under scrutiny lately for alleged bathroom discrimination. The company has now announced it will let anyone and everyone use their restrooms – customer or not.
State and federal laws prevent discrimination of goods and services by any business that is open to the public. A business can refuse to serve you (or let you use their facilities) if, for instance, there is a dress code that you are not following. But, it is illegal for a business to refuse service on the basis of race, gender, disability or any other protected class.
If you have been denied service but are not sure why, you may want to contact a civil rights attorney who can answer your questions. It is also a requirement for businesses to have wheelchair accessible restrooms.
If you have legal questions, please consult our Online Legal Directory to find an attorney in your area.