PaulinWinstonMaisanoLatimeratHastingsTeaRoomMay 11, 2018 – Joined by the champion of the newly signed law, Assemblymember Amy Paulin, Westchester Director of Consumer Protection Jim Maisano and the Executive Director of the Upstate New York Chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation Linda Winston, County Executive George Latimer outlined the importance and implementation of the New York State Crohn’s and Colitis Fairness Act.

The Crohn’s and Colitis Fairness Act was recently signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo.  The law will make it possible for those who suffer from an eligible gastrointestinal medical condition like Crohn's disease which could require immediate emergency access to a bathroom to use an employee-only restroom in a place of business when there are at least two employees working at the time and using that facility would not create a health, safety, or security risk. This law already exists in 14 other states.

Latimer said: “The new state law will be implemented over the next few months, but we’re here today to say that Westchester County intends to do whatever it takes to raise awareness of this new law among our local business owners and among our residents who suffer from gastrointestinal conditions like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.”

Paulin said: “Everyone with Crohn’s disease faces this problem once, twice, three times a year.  Some face it almost every day. I’m glad Westchester County, under County Executive Latimer’s and Director Maisano’s leadership, has already begun to raise public awareness, and my office is ready to help however we can. I will be writing a letter to the other 61 Counties to urge them to follow Westchester County’s lead and let people know that this law will be in effect this summer.”

The Westchester County Department of Consumer Protection has taken a lead role in implementing and raising awareness on the new statewide law in advance of its implementation date.

Maisano said: “We want those suffering from diseases who will need the accommodation of this law to be able to use it. While the law goes into effect in August, there’s no reason business owners can’t change these policies on their own, well in advance, particularly since they don’t need to make any changes to their restrooms – they just need to be aware there are patrons and consumers with these medical conditions, trying to do the best they can with a situation that’s simply beyond their control.”

Winston said: “This bill has been a culmination of many years of reaching out and working with people who have already had success in their states passing this bill. This bill will go a long way to help our patients finally feel as if they can live their lives – and in some cases – feel as if they can finally leave their home. Our patients now know that if they have to go, they can quietly ask and be granted that access.”

The press conference was held at a local business, Hastings Tea Room, which already understands the importance of this law and what it means to those who suffer from these diseases.

Owner of Hastings Tea Room Robert Peirce said: “We are delighted the law will require businesses to treat everyone with the same respect and dignity that we at Hastings Tea and Coffee have shown to those who have walked through our doors for the past five years.”

Latimer added: “We thank Hastings Tea Room for not only hosting us today but as an example of a business that understands this need and is perfectly happy to comply with the law, not because it is required, but because it is the compassionate thing to do.”

The law does:

  • Allow those suffering from a gastrointestinal disease access to the restroom due to emergencies caused by their disease, and be able to enjoy shops and restaurants free from anxiety, embarrassment and indignity.

  • Make a reasonable accommodation to allow those suffering from these conditions access to employee-only restrooms in an emergency.

The law does not:

  • Require business owners to make any physical changes to their existing employee-only restrooms.

  • Require business owners to change their policy about the use of their employee-only restroom if there’s another public restroom or other facility close at hand.

  • Even if there is no other facility close by, the law doesn’t require business owners to make their employee-only bathrooms available to the general public, or to anyone else except those suffering from a specific set of medical conditions.

  • Cost businesses a penny to comply.

The full press conference can be seen HERE.