A Minnesota woman is suing her employer for allegedly refusing her a bathroom break while she was working on an assembly line, which eventually led her to urinating in a nearby box in her state of desperation.
From the time when she first asked a manager to be allowed off the line to use the restroom, to when she asked again, to when she relieved herself in a plastic bag-lined box, Lily Prince said 30 to 45 minutes had passed.
“I knew I couldn’t hold it any longer,” the Cold Spring, Minn., woman told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “I would have wet my pants and I would never live it down.”
The 51-year-old was fired in 2012 by Electrolux Home Products for this “health and safety violation,” according to the Star Tribune. But 11 months later, she was rehired after her firing was found to violate her union contract.
Prince filed a lawsuit in 2013, which was upheld last week despite a motion from Electrolux to have it dismissed.
U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank said Prince’s case is “sufficient to allege that she was discharged or discriminated against because she exercised her rights,” the Star Tribune reported.
“When an employee [requests] to use the restroom during work time the lead person and/or supervisor must be notified. The length of time and frequency of requests will be monitored. A reasonable length of time is considered three to seven minutes and no more than twice a day during non-break work time,” Frank’s ruling continued.
Eloise Hale, an Electrolux spokeswoman, told the Star Tribune “the company’s labor contract provides multiple breaks throughout the day.”
A memorandum issue by the Occupational Health and Safety Act in 1998 clarified a federal standard that “requires employers to make toilet facilities available so that employees can use them when they need to do so. The employer may not impose unreasonable restrictions on employee use of the facilities.”
Frank’s opinion was that it was at least clear Prince “was denied access to toilet facilities, and therefore that toilet facilities were not ‘provided,’ or made available, to her as required under [Minnesota] OSHA.”
This ruling means that Electrolux might have to pay, according to Courthouse News.
But Prince, who works during the third shift, told the Star Tribune she now can use the restroom whenever she needs to.
“It’s comfortable to be in a situation where I know I can go to the bathroom,” she said.
The Tribune noted other lawsuits and complaints from other employees at Electrolux and other companies regarding bathroom breaks as well.
(H/T: St. Cloud Times)
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