Legislation & Lobbying

Lawyer with Crohn's disease goes public with Starbucks story to publicize bathroom-access laws

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A lawyer with Crohn’s disease hopes to raise public awareness about bathroom-access laws with a personal story about his quest to use a bathroom at Starbucks.

Stephen Marcus, 64, helped get a law passed in Massachusetts requiring retailers to open employee-only restrooms to people who have inflammatory bowel diseases in medical emergencies. He told the Boston Globe that he tried to invoke the law at a Boston Starbucks in May when he had an acute need to use the bathroom, only to be turned away.

Marcus said he showed his card certifying a medical condition, but an employee told him that he would have to use the bathrooms at a restaurant across the street and down the block. Marcus dashed out of the store to find the restroom, but he arrived too late.

A Starbucks representative countered that Marcus said something about using the restroom, but he left before an employee had a chance to understand or respond to him.

Fifteen states besides Massachusetts also have bathroom-access laws, and Marcus would like Starbucks to help him raise awareness of those laws. One way to do that is to display decals at their stores, he said. Starbucks has declined to do so, according to the article.

The other states, listed by Medical News Today, are Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.

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