Search form

Oxford, Alabama, City Council Adopts Ordinance Restricting Access to Bathroom Facilities Based on Biological Sex

By Thomas A. Davis, Michelle E. Phillips and Kimberly R. Ward
  • April 29, 2016

The City Council of Oxford, Alabama, has enacted an ordinance regulating the utilization of bathroom or changing facilities within the City of Oxford, Alabama, making it unlawful for a person to use a bathroom or changing facility within the jurisdiction of the City that does not correspond to the person’s biological sex. The ordinance defines biological sex as the sex “stated on a person’s birth certificate.”

The Oxford ordinance is the third such legislation in the nation targeting transgender individuals’ access to restrooms, showers, and changing facilities. Both Mississippi and North Carolina have enacted legislation concerning gender-related access to restrooms and similar facilities. On April 5, 2016, Mississippi enacted the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act,” which prohibits the state government from taking action against a person establishing sex-specific standards or policies regarding access to restrooms, baths, showers, dressing rooms, lockers, and other intimate facilities. (See our article on the laws in Pennsylvania and Mississippi, Pennsylvania Governor Issues Executive Orders Protecting LGBT Rights.) North Carolina’s legislation prohibits local governments from permitting transgender individuals to use bathrooms or changing facilities that do not match the gender stated on the individual’s birth certificate. (See our article, North Carolina Legislation Removes LGBT Protections and Possible Wrongful Termination Claims.)

However, unlike the legislation in Mississippi and North Carolina, Oxford’s ordinance imposes fines and criminal penalties for non-compliance. A person violating the ordinance could be punished by a fine of up to $500 or up to six months’ incarceration. The ordinance is the first of its kind to criminalize bathroom usage based on gender identity.

It is unlikely that the Oxford ordinance will be the last such legislation to target bathroom access as a number of bills regarding LGBT laws are pending across the country. Both supporters and opponents of the legislation have been outspoken. For example, some retailers have criticized the legislation and expressed support for transgender persons utilizing restrooms or changing facilities that correspond with their gender identity and gender expression rather than biological sex. In response, conservative activist groups, such as the American Family Association, have called for a boycott of retailers that would allow what they perceive to be “men” from use of the women’s restrooms and dressing rooms. Additionally, the Family Research Council is circulating a petition in favor of the North Carolina legislation. Hence, these issues likely will remain in the forefront for some time and it is important for employers to be compliant with the ever changing LGBT state and local laws.
 
The authors of this article and the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you work are available to assist employers in preparing workplace policies, conducting transgender training, and assisting with gender transition plans and accommodations.

©2016 Jackson Lewis P.C. This material is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice nor does it create a client-lawyer relationship between Jackson Lewis and any recipient. Recipients should consult with counsel before taking any actions based on the information contained within this material. This material may be considered attorney advertising in some jurisdictions. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Reproduction of this material in whole or in part is prohibited without the express prior written consent of Jackson Lewis P.C., a law firm that built its reputation on providing workplace law representation to management. Founded in 1958, the firm has grown to more than 900 attorneys in major cities nationwide serving clients across a wide range of practices and industries including government relations, healthcare and sports law. More information about Jackson Lewis can be found at www.jacksonlewis.com.

See AllRelated Articles You May Like

September 20, 2019

Bill to Nullify Mandatory Predispute Arbitration Agreements Passes in U.S. House

September 20, 2019

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the “Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act” (FAIR Act), which aims to nullify mandatory, predispute arbitration agreements and class-action waivers for employment, consumer protection, antitrust, and civil rights matters. The FAIR Act, H.R. 1423, passed 225-186 in the House on September... Read More

August 22, 2019

Illinois Expands State Human Rights Act to Include Employers with One or More Employees

August 22, 2019

An amendment to the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) expands the definition of “employer” from employers with at least 15 employees to those with one or more employees. The legislation, House Bill 252, was signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker on August 21, 2019, and enacted as Illinois Public Act 101-0430. The new law will become... Read More

August 13, 2019

New York Expands Harassment Laws, Protections of Religious Attire, Clothing, or Facial Hair

August 13, 2019

New York state has enacted sweeping new workplace harassment protections for employees, including lowering the standard for when harassment is actionable. It also has adopted new law prohibiting employment discrimination based on religious attire, clothing, or facial hair. Workplace Sexual Harassment On August 12, 2019, Governor... Read More

Related Practices