In a story reported in the Boston Globe, Stephen Marcus, as a person with Crohn’s disease, knows the laws surrounding bathroom policies from public franchises. He worked as a lawyer to help get the Massachusetts an IBD-friendly policy implemented. It rules that public franchines must provide access to restrooms not otherwise open to the public to those with inflamatory bowel diseases.
He found out the hard way that often employees aren’t aware of or don’t follow the law. This past spring in Boston, Marcus entered a downtown Starbucks in a panic when on his way to a business meeting downtown, he was struck by a familiar Crohn’s disease sympto: urgently needing the restroom. After following the protocol of showing his medical card and explaining the law, he was nevertheless denied and told to find public restrooms down the street. This wasn’t possible for Marcus, who cannot control the digestive failures for long, and instead had a humiliating experience on the street. He went down the street to get cleaned up, then on to his business meeting.
Starbucks denies his allegations, claiming the employees would have let him had he not immediately dashed back into the street. They also don’t have any account of him stating the law permitting access or that he flashed his certified health card with the disease, both of which he claimed to have done. However, Marcus worked on the implementation of the policy and is well aware of the law, and would have little reason to turn around and dash out without a response. It seems logical that he would have done what he could to use the bathroom rather than giving up without a response. He is not suing for money, rather simply to get Starbucks to take part in his campaign for public access to the toilets, a well suited response to the incident. Starbucks, on the other hand, would have been violating the law by denying access.
Now, Marcus is making noise to get awareness out there about public accessibility to restrooms for people with relevant medical conditions, a condition in the law in 16 states. He’s doing what he’s made a name for himself for in the Crohn’s community: he’s speaking out and trying to make life easier for those with the condition.