It might seem like a silly question to ask — because really, how many of us run into this problem? — but believe it or not, employers have been routinely brought to court for not providing their employees with a sanitary environment in which to go to the bathroom. Two industries in particular have experienced new legislation to ensure employers are doing their part. Which industries are those? Foundries and tobacco plantations.
The most surprising element of the legislation is where bathrooms are not required: literally anywhere else. Thankfully, most employers like to use the bathroom themselves, so it hasn’t become a huge problem.
What do the laws say?
According to Connecticut General Statute Section 31-36:
“The commissioner shall have authority by order to that effect to require the proprietor of any foundry in which ten or more persons are employed, situated in a locality where there is such a system for the disposal of sewage as to make such order practicable, to provide for the use of such employees a toilet room of such suitable dimensions as said commissioner determines, containing washbowls or sinks connected with running water, with facilities for heating the same, such room to be directly connected with such foundry building, properly heated, ventilated and protected from the dust of such foundry.”
The ridiculously worded statute goes on to guarantee that a person or company found in violation of this new law will be fined — get this — no more than $50.
And then there’s Connecticut General Statute Section 31-38, on tobacco plantations:
“Any person, firm or corporation employing twenty-five or more laborers on a tobacco plantation, which fails to provide adequate toilet accommodations for such employees, so arranged as to secure reasonable privacy for both sexes of such employees, shall be fined not less than twenty dollars nor more than one hundred dollars.”
You read that correctly! If you’re one of the many, many rich owners of a tobacco plantation, violating this law will only set you back a measly $100. In other words, you could simply disobey the law if you wanted to, because it’s not like it’ll break the bank!
Then again, these are Connecticut laws, and the number of plantations in the state hasn’t exactly exploded over the years. Few of those that remain employ more than 25 people.
The laws used to regulate other activities, but have been reevaluated and revised over time. For the record, a “ foundry” refers to any place of business where metal is cast. Maybe these laws were drafted because it’s hot in foundries or on plantations? Who knows.