I am pleased to announce that A.1982/S.3295, legislation I authored, was signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday.
The law amends the public health law by making employee-only restrooms in places of business open to those in the general public who have an eligible medical condition such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis that requires immediate access to a restroom. This legislation would not create any additional costs to businesses as they are not required to alter their toilet facility. Also, a business would not be required to provide access to their toilet facility when another facility is immediately accessible to the requesting person.
Ally Bain, a teenage girl in Illinois who suffers from Crohn’s disease, was the inspiration for this law in Illinois and 14 other states. Bain had a humiliating experience in which she was denied access to an employee-only bathroom when she was in need of one and no public bathroom was available. A resident of Paulin’s district initially brought this issue to her attention.
Stories like Ally’s are heartbreaking. No one should be forced to endure such a humiliating situation simply because they have a medical condition over which they have no control. This legislation creates a compassionate system for those suffering from gastrointestinal diseases who can be in need of a restroom at any given moment.
Crohn’s disease alone is an ongoing disorder of the gastro-intestinal tract. It causes swelling of the intestines, creating pain and diarrhea. People who suffer from such diseases often need urgent and sudden access to a toilet facility.
“Everyone with Crohn’s disease faces this problem once, twice, three times a year, some almost every day,” said Yoely Drummer, the founder and Executive Director of the Jewish Crohn’s and Colitis Support Group. “This [law] means they can have an easier life.”
Crohn’s disease is more prevalent among Jews of Ashkenazi origin than other segments of the population because of a genetic predisposition. According to the Public Library of Science Journal (PLoS), a 2012 study showed that Ashkenazi Jews are four times more likely to suffer from Crohn’s disease than other populations.
Kemp Hannon (R-6) sponsored the bill in the Senate.