Ally’s Law in Florida

Ally’s Law in Florida

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Cheryl Schuster started this petition to Cheryl Schuster

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What Is the Restroom Access Act?
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) can cause the sudden and sometimes painful urge to have a bowel movement — and this urge doesn’t always happen when a public restroom is available.

This is what Ally Bain learned at age 14 when she was in Chicago shopping at a popular retail store. Having been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease for three years at the time, Ally was with her mother when she experienced the sudden urge to use the restroom. However, no public restroom was available. Ally and her mother asked an employee and store manager to use the employee restroom but were denied. This resulted in an embarrassing and public accident for Ally.

Instead of allowing this incident to discourage her, Ally used her experience to advocate for herself and other IBD sufferers through creating the “Restroom Access Act,” also known as “Ally’s Law.” This law has since been passed by several states. It says that if a retail establishment does not have public restrooms, those who experience medical conditions that require immediate bathroom access (such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, pregnancy, or conditions that require use of an ostomy bag) must be allowed access to employee restrooms.

An estimated 1.6 million people in the United States have IBD. When these people need to use the restroom, it is not out of convenience. It can be a medical emergency. The Restroom Access Act raises awareness and protects those with IBD.

Where Does the Act Apply?
Ally’s Law falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which protects people who may require special accommodations. The Act protects people who may experience barriers to their health, education, and employment. Because the symptoms involve a sense of urgency, those with IBD are protected.

States that currently recognize Ally’s Law include:

Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Illinois
Kentucky
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Ohio
Oregon
Tennessee
Texas
Washington
Wisconsin
States have created some exemptions for certain businesses, including those who have fewer than three employees. This is because an employee escorting a person to the restroom could leave a retail space vulnerable to theft or destruction.

Retail stores also don’t have to perform new construction or alter their facilities in any way to accommodate the law. They can also refer a person to an immediately accessible public restroom. The retail store is also exempt from liability if the person using the restroom is injured while using the restroom, unless the business is negligent in some way.

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