How often can you urinate on company time?

Count the number of times you use the bathroom at work today. Is it more than two?

A woman who works at St. Cloud’s Electrolux is suing the company because it fired her when she urinated in a box on the plant floor, after she was denied the opportunity to take an additional bathroom break beyond that which employees are allowed.

Says the St. Cloud Times:

State law says “an employer must allow each employee adequate time from work within each four consecutive hours of work to utilize the nearest convenient restroom.” The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration also states that employees have a right to bathroom use.

Electrolux says in legal documents that it complied with the statute by providing a half-hour lunch break and two 10-minute breaks for every four hours for restroom use, which is in its collective bargaining agreement with the union, the International Association of Machinists (IAM).

The woman was ordered reinstated after her firing, but she’s proceeding with a federal suit against the crackdown on bathroom breaks.

  • Jack

    Don’t have to count. I know that it is more than two. This office minion tries to drink 8 glasses of water a day and that requires a trip before each major phone call (of which I have at least 3 or 4 a day).

    And it’s not just me, I see many of the same people in the restroom each day so we are exceeding our state law alloted two.

    Having worked in HR, I know that people can abuse privileges, but come on employers! You want us to live a healthly lifestyle to keep absentism and health care costs down but then you don’t want people to use the bathroom?

    Time to close the executive washroom.

  • jon

    Sadly I actually knew the answer to this because of a previous job.

    Violating OSHA guidelines was the norm there (and sadly they were only guidelines, so there wasn’t much for repercussions in doing so)

    This was the same company that didn’t want to put hot water in the building (and was forced to by either building codes, or labor laws) where the CEO each night before leaving turned the thermostat down to 60F so those working over night could freeze (because we aren’t paying for heat for our employees, we pay for it for executives and guests, employees that work during the day are probably stealing the heat by not producing their own body heat to keep warm) and where toilet paper use was kept to a minimum (usually by not putting it in the restroom) All because of a misguided view on the cost of these things… (400-500% annual turnover rate was apparently cheaper than toilet paper)

    However, reading the story, my recollection of the law was that breaks were separate from the bathroom usage… requiring employees get their bathroom breaks out of the way during their breaks I believe is a violation of the intent of the law (if not the letter).

    Also there was no set time on bathroom breaks (“expeditious” or “reasonable” might have been the word used in the law?) so wrapping them up into a 10 minute break might be problematic.

    Though I also thought that bathroom breaks were a state law not a federal one (regular breaks I thought were federal) so my 10 years out of date knowledge plus my 10 years worth of memory loss is probably not all that useful for citing legal precedent.

  • Steven John

    It was 2 times a day with permission and without discipline at Honeywell in the 90’s.