New Law Will Open Restroom Doors to Celiacs

in Celiac
Published: January 27, 2015

For those with celiac disease, finding a restroom is not merely a matter of convenience; at times it is a matter of urgent necessity.

With diarrhea, stomach pain, and constipation as some of the most common symptoms of celiac disease, sporadic public restrooms may not be enough.

Now, Delaware is the sixteenth state to open more restroom doors for those with celiac disease and other gastrointestinal-related conditions.

Delaware’s new restroom access law, known as bill HB 245, took effect on December 8 and requires retail businesses to allow customers with gastrointestinal conditions to use “employee-only” bathrooms. The bill applies to those with Crohn’s, colitis, and any “other condition or device requiring immediate access to a restroom facility” – this includes celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and the need for a colostomy bag.

Some business owners have voiced concerns over allowing greater access to their private restroom facilities. To avoid abuse of the new regulations, customers seeking use of the restroom must present retailers with some type of “can’t wait” card, which can be written medical proof or an identification card issued by a health organization indicating that they have medical condition that requires such access.

“This is not meant to be a hammer on businesses,” Representative Trey Paradee, who sponsored the legislation, told Delawareonline. “What we really wanted to do is just increase awareness. The reality is, 99 times out of 100, if someone walks into a business and is obviously in distress most business owners or employees of a business will say absolutely, go ahead.”

Businesses who refuse access to customers with a legitimate medical need can be fined $100 under the new law.

The bill requires no changes to existing facilities and 15 other states across the U.S. have already passed similar legislation.