January 19, 2001
The Honorable Max Sandlin
Member, U.S. House of Representatives
Post Office Box 538
Sulphur Springs, Texas 75483
Dear Congressman Sandlin:
This letter is in response to your inquiry on behalf of your constituent, xxx xxxxx xxxx. Xxx xxxx sent you an email regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements for private toilet and bathing facilities. Please excuse the delay in responding.
Title III of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities by public accommodations, requires owners or operators of a place of public accommodation, such as a restaurant, bank, hospital, car dealership, etc., to remove architectural barriers to access. Title III also requires facilities that are newly designed, constructed or altered to be readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities. Therefore, the ADA requires all public and common use toilet and bathing facilities to be accessible to people with disabilities. A limited exception, however, exists for private toilet and bathing facilities intended for the use of a single occupant of a private office. The ADA requires that private toilet and bathing facilities must be designed to be "adaptable," that is, designed to be easily modified to be accessible.
In his email, xxx xxxx comments that his employer, a hospital, constructed toilet and bathing facilities for the use of its emergency medical service personnel. Under the ADA, toilet and bathing facilities for the use of employees are considered common use facilities. Therefore, the hospital's common use toilet and bathing facilities must be accessible to people with disabilities.
xxx xxxx also comments in his email that a friend, who owns a car dealership, wishes to construct a new building which includes a private shower in his office. The ADA does not require private toilet and bathing facilities for the use of the occupant of a private office to be fully accessible at the time of construction. The ADA, however, requires the private toilet and bathing facilities to be designed to be adaptable so that accessible elements can be easily installed when needed after construction.
Please note that the ADA establishes only minimum accessibility requirements. Nothing in the ADA prohibits state and local governments from establishing and enforcing more stringent requirements for accessibility. Therefore, the State of Texas or a local building authority may require toilet and bathing facilities that serve private offices to be fully accessible.
If xxx xxxx has additional questions, he may wish to call the Department's ADA Information Line. The ADA Information Line provides technical assistance regarding the rights and obligations of individuals, businesses, agencies, and others covered or protected by the ADA. This technical assistance is available by calling 800-514-0301 (Voice) or 800-514-0383 (TDD).
I hope this information is helpful to you in responding to your constituent. Please do not hesitate to contact the Department if we can be of assistance in other matters.
Bill Lann Lee
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division