Walgreens changes restroom policy after customer says a Hollywood store discriminated against her

Alejandra Reyes-Velarde, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

"When I think of Walgreens, I think of an ally," Meehan said in her email to Walgreens. "A company that really supports progressive issues which I really respect a lot."

In 2016, the Human Rights Campaign named Walgreens the best place to work for LGBT equality. Walgreens scored perfectly in the advocacy group's Corporate Equality Index, a national benchmarking survey and report on corporate policies and practices on LGBT workplace equality.

"People who work there, maybe their experience is different, but as a customer who spends a lot of time and money at Walgreens, I expected more out of them," she said in an interview.

Walgreens, which is owned by Walgreens Boots Alliance of Deerfield, Ill., confirmed the policy change, but would not comment further.

So-called bathroom equity has been hotly debated in recent years.

In December, North Carolina repealed a controversial requirement that people use public bathrooms based on the gender listed on their birth certificates.

In 2016, Target adopted a policy that allows customers and employees to use bathrooms based on their gender identity. The policy generated a backlash, including a boycott, from conservative groups.

A 2015 California State Report found that 9 percent of more than 27,000 respondents had been denied access to a restroom that year, 12 percent had been verbally harassed while trying to access one and 60 percent avoided using a restroom.

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California law bans businesses, nonprofits and government agencies that serve the public from not allowing people to use bathrooms that match their gender identity or from asking that people show identification to use a restroom or other sex-segregated facility. All single restrooms are also required to be designated as all-gender.

There should be clear policies that are comprehensible for customers and staff alike, Goad said. But there's no data on how well the staff is trained to enforce those policies, she said.

Meehan said she's not completely satisfied with the policy because it is labeled as a transgender inclusion policy and does not outline steps for employees to take if they encounter a similar situation, but "it's a good first step."

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