Michigan Law Protects People With Chronic Diseases From Being Denied Access to Private Restrooms
A seldom-cited Michigan law prohibits businesses from denying access to non-public restrooms for individuals with diseases such as Crohn's and ulcerative colitis.
However, a Michigan family was recently denied access to a business' private bathroom, bringing attention to the law which was passed in 2008.
The 'Restroom Access Act' requires retail establishments in our state that have toilet facilities designated 'employees only' to grant access to those bathrooms to customers with specific medical conditions.
Many States Have Ally's Law
About one-third of states in the US have bathroom access laws, oftentimes dubbed Ally's Law. Ally Bain is the Illinois woman who began campaigning for reform when she was a teenager. Bain has Crohn's disease and began advocating for change after a store denied her access to its non-public bathroom when she was just 14 years old.
“I was crying, doubled over in pain. We talked to a fitting room employee and he said the store did not have any public restrooms,” Bain explains in a YouTube video.
Bain then visited Springfield, Illinois on a class trip and met with a congressman at the state capitol who advised her on how to proceed.
Michigan Family Denied Access to Non-Public Restroom
During a recent visit to Double Dip Depot, a privately-owned ice cream establishment in West Michigan, a family was denied the opportunity to use the shop's private bathroom, although a family member's situation was emergent.
'Michael,' who chose not to reveal his last name, spoke anonymously with WOOD-TV. He explained that his family member suffers from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
“I got together (my relative’s) documentation, including a copy of his (medical emergency) card, and presented that to the (Double Dip) window saying, ‘Please, we’re having an emergency, can we use your restroom?'"
Despite all that, the business owner denied the request. Michael's family member suffered an inevitable, embarrassing accident in the shop's outdoor dining area.
An Exception to Every Rule
There are, however, exceptions to the Michigan law that may protect businesses that don't grant access to non-public bathrooms if it could pose a risk to public safety.
It is unclear if Michael's family plans to file an official complaint against the ice cream store.