What Rights do Workers Have When Being Forced to Use Unsanitary Portable Bathrooms?

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“Can I be forced to use a filthy portable bathroom at work? I live in Chicago and I am a driver for a company. We work out of a parking lot at O’Hare airport. The portable bathrooms sit on the lot where we work and we recently had a storm that blew them over. No one has come to clean them and they are filthy. I refuse to use them – they even have bugs flying around and crawling in them; the stench is unbearable. We have no running water at this place and I was told if I wanted to use them then I had to clean them. On the day in question, I worked 6hrs without going to the bathroom and it made me sick, so on the following day I asked my manager what I should do because the bathrooms were in the same condition. Mind you it was already over 90 degrees and the heat and humidity out there make things extra foul. He got mad and suspended me without pay because of this. We used to be able to use the bathroom at the airport but they stopped us from doing that. It is horrible that we have to use the portable bathrooms – we cannot even wash our hands. All we have is hand sanitizer, so every time I have to force myself to go to the bathroom, I have to use hand sanitizer with no water. What can I do?”

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

This sounds like a very unfortunate situation, and we feel for you.  Your best bet is to direct your questions both to your state labor and employment agency, and the local office of the Federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), which you can find here.

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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.