Balkinization  

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Reducing Sex Discrimination -- One Toilet At a Time

Ian Ayres

Is it legal for employers to set aside single-toilet bathrooms just for men or just for women?

This piece in Slate argues the answer is no. [By the way, I formally disavow the title that Slate chose for the article -- maybe my least favorite publication title ever.]

It is another example of turning my pet peeves into publications. In one sense liberating, but it also raises important questions about institutional loyalty.

Comments:

"This sounds too trivial to matter, right? This is the kind of sex discrimination that troubles only law professors and no one else; the kind that has no relevance or application outside ivy walls?"

Yes! Right indeed! And your rebutting example has nothing to do with single-user bathrooms.

On efficiency grounds, where single-user bathrooms are used it makes great sense for them to be available to either sex. Many always have been, and I suspect the trend will be in that direction. As a matter of alleged sex discrimination, trivial indeed.

We need out-of-the-box thinkers, so keep it up. But sometimes I wonder if the air is a little thin out there, so be careful.
 

This reminds me...

Anyone who's ever gone to college or law school is familiar with flyers from people seeking roomates. Invariably they discriminate on the basis of sex:

"Female law student seeks fellow female law student, non-smoker...

"Male law student seeks male roommate to share..."

This appears to violate 42 U.S.C. 3604.

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode42/usc_sec_42_00003604----000-.html

I vote we tackle this issue before unisex bathrooms. There are too many women out there being denied the mind-opening experience of rooming with a guy.
 

Ken-
I don't know if the incident in his counter example took place with a single-user bathroom, but clearly it could. It would just involve seeing the transgendered person coming out of that bathroom and recognizing them as transgender, rather than just a member of opposite sex who is "cheating" on which bathroom to use. Bigots who recognize that person as transgender may well still beat them upon noticing that person using a single user bathroom.
 

"I don't know if the incident in his counter example took place with a single-user bathroom"Can I just say: I don't think people should be going to the bathroom on the counter, regardless of what sex they are.
 

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