Do transgender-accessible bathrooms create professional liability risks?

Transgender Rights Bathrooms
Will design firms face liability due to transgender-inclusive bathrooms?

Although Americans seem to be surrendering their privacy on an increasing basis through cellphone and website usage, the issue of privacy and safety in restrooms appears to still be a concern. Some concerns design firms have expressed to us include:

  • Is there a professional liability exposure created by the move toward assuring restroom access to individuals whose original biological gender does not match their psychological gender?
  • Is there a risk for design professionals who design common-use or unisex restroom facilities?
  • Does the wayfinding or facilities signage lead to exposure?

If an existing restroom facility is acknowledged as being accessible to all who identify with a specific gender, the exposure of the design professional should not be an issue. If the original codes, standards, and regulations were met, the design professional is protected by the standard of care from a claim alleging negligent design.

A firm designing a common-use restroom that complies with the law and meets accessibility and other regulatory requirements has no unique exposures. Similarly, if the signage meets both the standard of care and applicable regulations—for instance, some jurisdictions require an indication that a single-user facility is intended for both cisgender and transgender individuals or that restrooms otherwise labeled “male” and “female” include a “transgender inclusive” sign—the likelihood of a claim is minimal.

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