Void Where Prohibited


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Rest Breaks and the Right to Urinate on Company Time

By Marc Linder and Ingrid Nygaard
Cornell University Press

Although federal and state regulations require employers to provide toilets, government agencies, incredibly, do not require employers to permit workers to use them. The authors place this regulatory breakdown in the wider context of history of labor-management struggles over rest periods. They emphasize the physiological consequences that workers suffer when they are not allowed to interrupt work to rest or urinate.

Without legal protection, workers are held captive. Knowing that supervisors often deny permission to leave the production line, a poultry processort who cannot risk losing her job may urinate where she stands. Many now where diapers designed for the incontinent. An elementary school teacher wanting to use the bathroom may take her whole class along.

Linder and Nygaard explain how protective rest period legislation has shrunk over time. Ironically, because most statutes singled out women for rest breaks, they were invalidated by Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination. The authors explain other countries’ regulations and conclude with a recommendation for legislation to mandate rest and bathroom breaks for all workers.

Additional information

Weight 18.8 oz
Dimensions 9.25 × 6.25 × 1 in


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