I swore to myself that I had written enough this week. I have a real job, with real fake responsibilities. I was done with my blog – really. But then an item crosses my cluttered desk that is, for lack of a better phrase, right up my alley, and to sit on this over the weekend would most likely kill me.
An informal discussion letter written by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in August of this year indicates that, “paruresis” — more commonly known as “shy bladder syndrome” — qualifies as a disability under the amended Americans with Disabilities Act. This “informal discussion” may mean that businesses and employers may have to accommodate people with this condition with private restroom facilities when requested, or be in violation of the ADA.
There goes my executive washroom.
Let me simplify this a bit. According to the EEOC, if your employees have a group pot to piss in, but one person cannot piss in the group pot, you may need to build or provide a private pot to piss in.
That is a potential gaggle of pots. It is believed that the cost for this nationwide could run into the billions of dollars.
I was not even aware that there was an organization to deal with this particular issue, but there is. I do not know why I am surprised at this. The group, called the International Paruresis Association, defines this condition as “the inability to urinate with others present.” This is a recognized social phobia, and according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, it affects seven percent of the population, or about 17 million Americans.
Apparently the association has singled out the process of random drug screening as an area for potential accommodation. The group says thousands of Americans have been fired for their apparent inability to submit a urine sample during random drug tests, when asked to do so in a public restroom.
To be quite honest, I have been through a couple random drug tests, and they were never in a public restroom. I was not aware this was an issue. Here is a hint, if you are traveling and are approached for a sample while in a public restroom; it is statistically more likely to be a Senator or Congressional Representative than a random drug tester associated with your employer. I just wish someone had warned me, but I digress….
It is generally thought that, while the initial focus is on the drug testing procedures, having private facilities available at all times for such individuals will not be far from the current agenda. This is not just a concern from an employment perspective. It will become an issue for any business serving the general public as well.
In the letter, which was apparently issued in response to an inquiry from a constituent, the EEOC writes, “The ADAAA and its implementing regulations make this showing much easier by including bladder and brain functions as major life activities, lowering the standard for establishing that an impairment ‘substantially limits' a major life activity, and focusing the determination of whether an individual is ‘regarded as' having a disability on how the individual has been treated because of an impairment.”
This could affect businesses with 15 employees or more. The Census Bureau lists 655,587 companies in that category.
I am not questioning the difficulty of this condition, or making fun of those who suffer from it, but in my opinion it is simply that; a condition. I was not aware that it has made the leap to disability status. With the continual expansion of what qualifies as a protected class based on a perceived disability, I am not sure where this ends. What other “conditions” are waiting in the wings, for their chance to be accommodated?
Someone should call the incontinence folks. They'll practically wet themselves when they hear about this.