February 26, 1999
PUBLIC RESTROOM LAWS AND REGULATIONS
By: Ann Czerniakowski, Legislative Fellow
You asked if state laws and regulations require public bathrooms in such places as in stores and gas stations.
The requirements for public bathroom facilities are outlined in the State Building Code, which includes the 1990 BOCA National Plumbing Code and the 1990 BOCA National Building Code. The State Building Code requires public bathrooms in restaurants, with the exception of take-out facilities that are below a certain size. It requires them in automotive service stations if they are above a certain size. It does not require them in gas stations.
The Boca National Plumbing Code requires public toilet facilities in restaurants, nightclubs, places of public assembly, and mercantile occupancies. Mercantile occupancies are buildings or structures used for displays and sales purposes. They include retail stores, shops, salesrooms, markets, and automotive service stations (1990 National BOCA Building Code, Sec. 308.1). Facilities are not required in mercantile occupancies with an occupant load of less than 150 (approximately 4,500 sq. feet) (BOCA National Plumbing Code, Sec. P. 1202.5). Automotive service stations offer quick-lube shops, tune-up, muffler shops, and tire shops. They are used for minor automotive work (1990 BOCA National Building Code, Sec 201.0).
The code classifies gas stations with public garages (BOCA National Building Code, Sec. 201.0). There is no law requiring public toilet facilities within these type of buildings.
Effective June 15,1994, the code requires new or newly renovated food establishments to provide public toilet facilities. The facilities must be separated by sex unless the total occupant load is 15 or less. Take out facilities with an occupant load less than 150 do not have to have public toilet facilities (BOCA National Building Code, Sec. 1202.5).