Fontana, CA asked in Consumer Law, Personal Injury, Civil Rights and Constitutional Law for California

Q: My sister urinated in store while paying for her groceries. Not allowed to use restroom.

Waited in line to enter store. Shopped. Needed to use restroom, but was denied access. Wrapped up her shopping because she needed to urinate. Begged employees to let her use facilities. Was advised to speak to a manager. No manager made themselves available. At check out, she begged cashier again to call a manager. They kept on saying they were. She urinated on herself and on the floor because she would lose her place in line if she exited the store. After the fact, management escorted her to an upstairs restroom. Restroom was dirty and toilet lid was wet with urine. This was an employee restroom. She had to exit Whole Foods with her $200 purchase damp with her own urine. We understand the pandemic and protocols that stem from it, but nobody assisted her and she ended up urinating on herself in public. She claims emotional distress, humiliation. What can be done about this?

4 Lawyer Answers
Dale S. Gribow
Dale S. Gribow
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Palm Desert, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: MORE INFO NEEDED.

THE DEFENSE FOR THE STORE WILL ARGUE SHE COULD HAVE LEFT THE STORE AND GONE ELSEWHERE.

I WOULD WRITE A LETTER TO THE STORE AND CORPORATE OFFICES.

SHE MAY WANT TO CONSIDER SMALL CLAIMS WHERE ONE CAN SUE FOR UP TO $10,000........

2 users found this answer helpful

Louis George Fazzi
Louis George Fazzi
Answered
  • Civil Rights Lawyer
  • Jess Ranch, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Your sister has every right to sue the store for negligence and the infliction of severe emotional distress due to their cavalier treatment.

Any good civil rights lawyer should be able to represent her. There are many in the Inland Empire who would be highly capable of representing her. Go to the San Bernardino County Bar Association's website and go to their lawyer's referral service. You can also go to the Western San Bernardino County Bar association's website and use their lawyer referral service. Encourage your sister to take these initial steps to get legal representation.

William John Light
William John Light
Answered
  • Civil Rights Lawyer
  • Riverside, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Businesses are allowed to restrict bathroom access to employees, unless there is a local ordinance to the contrary.

There is no suggestion that your sister suffered from some medical condition that made here incontinent. However, even if that was the case, I doubt that she has a valid discrimination claim. Able bodied customers are not allowed access to employee bathrooms, either. To deny your sister access to the employee bathrooms is not discriminatory because able bodied persons are also denied use of employee bathrooms.

There are states that have passed Ally’s Law, which does require access to employee bathrooms for persons with medical needs. California has not adopted Ally’s law.

If your sister has a disability that contributed to the incident, she may wish to file an ADA complaint as its regulations are complex and I may have missed something. However, it sounds like she relieved herself rather than lose her place in line.

You can also contact the California Commission on Disability Access (916) 319-9974 or the Dept. of Fair Employment & Housing for further guidance.

William John Light
William John Light
Answered
  • Civil Rights Lawyer
  • Riverside, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: To clarify: Businesses are allowed to restrict bathroom access to just employees, unless there is a local ordinance to the contrary.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.