The Restroom Access Act, a bill proposed by Del. Rob Krupicka (D-45) that would have allowed people with certain medical conditions quick access to employee-only bathrooms at local retailers, failed Monday in a General Assembly subcommittee after no members made a motion to advance the bill.
Similar bills have passed in at least 13 states, according to a website about Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or IBD. It first became a law in 2005, after a 14-year old girl with Crohn's disease, Ally Bain of Illinois, was denied access to a restroom during a flare-up. An immune disorder, Crohn's disease — and similar diseases like ulcerative colitis — is characterized by inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in diarrhea, abdominal pain and bleeding. After she teamed up with a local lawmaker and testified about her experience before a legislative committee, the proposed legislation became law in Illinois.
While in the midst of a flare-up, a person with IBD may have to use the bathroom upward of 30 times a day, according to a report by Simon Owens for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America.
"What this bill does is give people access in an emergency so they can have the confidence to go out," Krupicka told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Lobbyists for Virginia retailers said it was a "security risk" to give the general public access to private areas of a retail establishment.
A summary of the bill reads:
"Requires a retail establishment that has a toilet facility for its employees to allow a customer who suffers from Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, or other medical condition that requires immediate access to a toilet facility, to use that facility during normal business hours if certain conditions are met. The measure does not apply to certain filling stations or service stations or to banks or savings institutions. The operator of a retail establishment that violates this requirement is subject to a civil penalty of not more than $100. A violation does not subject the retail establishment to further liability to the customer."