Seattle’s All-Gender Restroom Ordinance

Community and Compliance


During Pride Month in June, many reflected on the important legal victories for LGBT rights achieved over the past few decades.  But businesses must do their part to abide by the protections created by federal, state, and local law.  And in Seattle, many businesses may be entirely unaware of some local laws designed to make our community more inclusive.


The Seattle Municipal Code now requires that all single-occupant restrooms, in places of public accommodation, be gender neutral—that is, open to all persons no matter their gender.  For businesses and property owners, the key question to consider is whether a property is a “place of public accommodation.”  The rule does not apply to multi-occupant restrooms.


The term “place of public accommodation” frequently comes up with respect to accommodation and discrimination laws—the Civil Rights Act being the most well-known.  But the Seattle ordinance defines “places of public accommodation” broader than typical anti-discrimination statutes.  It defines “places of public accommodation” as “any place, store, or other establishment that supplies goods or services with or without charge to the general public.” 


Failure to comply subjects the business to penalties starting at $125.00 per violation.  Compliance costs are relatively low, because generally, the corrective action needed is purchasing and installing new signage.  For more information, a City guide to the new law is available here

If you have any questions about the Seattle Municipal Code, contact Henry Ross or Scott Feir, and the attorneys at MPBA at (206) 682-7090.