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Battle of the Bathrooms

I need some help in how to politely “remind” a few men that the ladies bathroom is in fact, for ladies.

I work in a smallish office, there’s only 10 people here including myself, and we all get along pretty well. Three females and seven males, so the balance is a little uneven. The problem is, a few of the men in the office have taken to using the ladies bathroom instead of the gents. One in particular uses it solely for, shall we say, seated performances only, and leaves the area quite offensively odoriferous. Another refuses to lift the seat, so you can imagine what’s left for us ladies to clean up when we go in.

The straw that broke the camels back was when I went in to use the bathroom and had to first clean (and disinfect!) a soiled seat.
I sent an email at the time to ask everyone to leave the bathrooms in the manner they found them (ie, clean and tidy). My boss also replied to all reminding everyone that the gents is for the gents and the ladies is for the ladies.

However, that only worked for a few weeks. We’re back to square one again, with certain men believing the ladies is a free-for-all. It’s not that the gents is occupied at the time, the offenders beeline for the ladies.

By now you probably think I sit around watching people’s bathroom habits – I don’t, I just sit very near them and in a team so small it’s pretty hard not to notice. It’s also pretty clear when those people are away and the problems stop.

So my question is this – after already having sent an email, and the Boss sending an email, what can I do? I don’t want to directly confront the offenders, as that would be extremely rude and embarrassing. I also don’t want to effectively throw a schoolyard tantrum because “a boy is using the girls bathroom and boys are icky”. To be fair, there are seven men and only three women, so it’s understandable that at times they can and should be free to use the ladies when the gents is occupied – but not constantly, and not when they leave it in such a state.

Any brilliant ideas that will save face for both them and me? We’re a small knit team so I really want to avoid awkwardness. Thanks! 0313-14

I would make the ladies bathroom as frilly and feminine as I could, which could include but is not limited to, framed photos of handsome men (or cute puppies) or floral still life, silk flowers in vases, distinctly feminine magazines like Ladies Home Journal, and replace the hand soap dispenser with an obvious feminine scented soap.  Put a nice basket of mini pads and tampons on the toilet tank or sink counter, too.    I’d go so far as to drop some perfume on the cardboard tube of the toilet paper.    My evil, ornery twin thinks it would be a good idea to hang an acrylic 8X10 document holder on the inside door with an insert informing the female employees of the dangers of Pre Menstrual Syndrome.

{ 111 comments… add one }
  • Rayner March 17, 2014, 3:56 am

    I wouldn’t even go that far – I’d be talking to the boss, and giving him names of the offenders. It’s not up to the ladies to make the gents so uncomfortable that they leave the place they weren’t even supposed to be using in the first place. And if I was high enough up, I’d be talking to the offenders myself – “Bob, I’ve noticed that you’ve been using the ladies toilet during the day, and I’m here to tell you that it has to stop, as a manager. The men have their own bathroom, and I would like you to start using your own from now on.” If they’re ridiculous enough that they have to be told to stop using someone else’s bathroom, then they deserve that kind of conversation that should have been over and done with back in primary school.

    • Wild Irish Rose March 17, 2014, 9:36 am

      Put a lock on the ladies’ room door, give all the ladies a key, and keep it locked when you don’t have to use it. These men are pigs and they can contaminate their OWN bathroom. If the women did stuff like this to the men’s room, you can bet there would be all kinds of complaining going on.

      • WMK March 18, 2014, 11:32 am

        I was thinking this exact same thing.

  • Mya March 17, 2014, 4:00 am

    Funny you should mention this, we have a similar issue at our office. Our building is relatively small and there are a LOT of us crammed in here. I work in IT so the Male/Female ratio is REALLY screwy – lots of developers etc. There are 5 women working in our office to about 40 men. And 5 toilets. Two on the ground floor, two on the 1st floor and 1 in the loft space. Of the 5 loos, 1 is dedicated Female, 1 is dedicated Male and 2 are ‘unisex’ and I agree that the unisex loos are usually the most pungent. That being said, the single ladies loo is always swelteringly hot (I think there might be some heating pipes in there or something) and it always smells horrible (think gently oven baked sanitary town bin) and 1 particular colleague has, shall we say, some personal hygiene issues I think she needs to address. I have not yet worked out how to address this (if at all) but this gives me some perspective on your problem and I have to say: Go to HR. Leaving faecal matter or even Urine on the toilet seat is not only disgusting but unacceptable and a Health and Safety risk. If you know who is responsible I would recommend asking HR to deal with this issue. Your company should have an HR department or a contract with an external HR provider. Health risks like this should not be ignored and if one particular person is responsible then they need to be spoken to. It is not acceptable in a professional environment to leave toilets in this kind of mess.

    The passive aggressive side of me would advocate ‘public shaming’ by photographing the state of the loo and sending an email asking if ‘whoever is responsible’ would clean it up, but this can go badly wrong and result in a disciplinary for you so your best bet would be to take it down the Health and Safety route with HR.

  • Sarah March 17, 2014, 4:30 am

    This would get into legal territory. Depending on where the writer is located, there could be laws requiring a certain number of toilets to be provided for women/men depending on the number of each in the office/building. By allowing employees of the opposite gender to use the toilets, thus making them “unisex,” the employer may be breaking the law. Letter writer, you should investigate this, it is very rude but beyond etiquette.

  • Kathryn March 17, 2014, 4:30 am

    What is due and embarrassing about asking the offenders to use the men’s room? There’s no need to go into detail. You say that you’ve seen them go straight to it instead of the checking the men’s room first.

    They are the ones who should be embarrassed. You asking them politely and quietly is not rude. “Excuse me John, I’ve noticed you heading straight for the ladies room. Please use the men’s room instead.”
    If he wants a reason, say that you’re uncomfortable using it while he’s in there (unless I’ve misunderstood and it’s all in one, rather than cubicles). I think that giving John, James and Jason a face to accommodate to, rather than just “them wimen” will help them understand that *you* have to deal with their smell and thoughtlessness.

    • AMC March 17, 2014, 9:08 am

      I agree. Screw embarrassment.Why be discreet for their sake when they can’t be bothered to respect the space that was designated for YOUR use, not theirs? The next time one of these guys leaves the ladies room soiled, I’d hand him a scrub brush and some toilet bowl cleaner right in front of everyone and tell him, “You left the ladies room in such disarray, the ladies cannot use the facility designated for them until it’s been disinfected. Please clean up your mess.”

  • Liz March 17, 2014, 4:50 am

    So I don’t know where about you live, but in Australia I’m pretty sure its an occupational health and saftey rule that there is available gender segregated bathrooms in the workplace. If you employer isn’t adequately enfrocing this rule they could be liable under some OSH Law.
    For more practical measures: install a lock on the bathroom door and only give keys to the ladies. In a toolbox meeting at work the boss should have a corageous converstaion with his employees that gents using the female bathroom is shameful and not tolerated. I think it’s a bit passive aggressive to just explode pink frilly feminine decore.

  • Danielle March 17, 2014, 5:09 am

    Take it back to the boss with photographic proof of the “before” you’ve tidied. This is unsanitary and unacceptable. The boss should then deal with getting the culprit to clean up after themselves.

  • Marozia March 17, 2014, 5:25 am

    Good idea from Admin. Keep it frilly, keep it girly.
    If the boys persist in using the ladies bathroom, organise a rota for the boys to clean it too!

  • Ryuugan80 March 17, 2014, 5:53 am

    Would it be possible to put a lock on the women’s restroom door, with only the three of you and the boss having the key? If nothing else, I’d think those guys would be much less likely to go to the women’s restroom if they have to ask you every time they went.

    • Library Dragon March 17, 2014, 11:25 am

      This was my thought. If there is no access they cannot use it. at. all. We had to do this for men’s public restroom when a regular teen library patron would trash it. He couldn’t deny it and we reported him to his mother.

  • jen d. March 17, 2014, 5:54 am

    Gross, just gross. I wonder what would happen if the ladies started using the mens’ room and leaving out feminine hygiene products (not that I am suggesting doing this!!!)? The men would probably flip. Guys, use your own bathrooms.

    • Juju March 17, 2014, 10:31 am

      Unfortunately, that would only punish the non-offenders.

      • jen d. March 18, 2014, 11:19 am

        Oh no, I wasn’t suggesting that people actually do that. That would be passive aggressive and immature. It’s just a way to draw a parallel.

        The sad thing is in a small office like that it’s probably just one person giving a bad name to the other guys.

  • Brit March 17, 2014, 6:14 am

    Our ladies loo doubles as the kitchen sink. It’s lovely walking in there to find a gentleman washing up, but that’s what happens when the building is listed and 300 years old.

    I would send another email. I would also put a sign on the door. And I would buy air freshener.

  • Caterlaw March 17, 2014, 6:25 am

    I agree with Rayner and Liz. It isn’t the ladies’ responsibility to frill up the bathroom and make it uncomfortable for men (I doubt this would deter the offenders anyway). Does the men’s room have a stall? If so, talk to the manager, name the offenders, and suggest installing a lock. If not, suggest a renovation so the men can do their business in privacy…and still suggest locking the ladies’ room.

  • Angeldrac March 17, 2014, 6:29 am

    Why DO the toilets need to be segregated? I’ve never heard of a law enforcing it (co’ not saying their isn’t, just that I have never heard of one).
    It sounds to me that the problem is the hygiene, not the fact that there are men using what I presume are separate cubicles in a toilet labelled for women.
    Maybe some photographic evidence of the mess being left emailed around the office with explanation of why it is unhygienic and inconsiderate? Maybe sign posting in the cubicles? Maybe a brief education session?
    To suggest that it is only the men making the toilet smell is a little silly, though, don’t you thnk?

    • Rayner March 17, 2014, 10:16 am

      For many women, religiously or culturally, sharing such a private space with men is not appropriate or allowed. Likewise, the same for men.

      It may not be the case in this situation but segregated areas can be important.

      • Enna March 18, 2014, 12:13 pm

        I wouldn’t want to see a man using a urinal…. also if locks get broken or break it can be embrassing if you walk in on someone of the oppisite sex.

  • coralreef March 17, 2014, 6:31 am

    A few suggestions :

    Contact your boss again, this time with photographic evidence.
    Frill it up, like admin said.
    Get a lock and key installed. Watch as the whining starts.

    As a rule, I find that men don’t get subbtle hints or even obvious ones. Next time one of the offenders aims for the ladies’ I would just go “HEY! Men’s room is over there! USE IT!” along with pointed glare and finger. I have no tolerance for this type of behaviour. It’s like they are marking their territory : Eveything is ours…

  • Melissa March 17, 2014, 6:35 am

    Install a key lock on the ladies room and only give keys to the ladies. That should fix the problem immediately. It is completely inappropriate for a man to be in the ladies room, unless he’s the janitor cleaning it. If these men are as self entitled as it seems, I doubt tampons and frilly decor will deter them.

  • Lynne March 17, 2014, 6:51 am

    I’m the only woman sharing a bathroom with a bunch of guys. Fortunately, they’re pretty well-behaved (and will go downstairs to use the loo to do their more lengthy business most of the time). My only problem is that they drip on the lip of the bowl, where the u-shaped seat ends. UGH. Every time I go to the bathroom, I have to clean up stray drops they’ve left behind.

    They all do it, so there really isn’t any singling anyone out. In the interest of office harmony, I just keep my mouth shut and wipe before I sit down. I also provide air freshener and some of that toilet bowl drop stuff (because I’m not trekking downstairs – there’s a men’s, but the receptionist has appropriated the ladies’ for her own personal bathroom, and I feel weird going in there).

    • JO March 17, 2014, 12:21 pm

      I have seen signs and intended to address this very problem – my personal favorite is “if you should sprinkle when you tinkle, please be a sweetie, wipe the seatie.” Or the less subtle ” our aim is to keep this bathroom clean. Your aim would help.” One of these hung above the toilet just at eye level may do the trick!

      • The Elf March 17, 2014, 5:29 pm

        I have no problem with unisex bathrooms, but some bathroom designs aren’t really set up well for that. You’d want to make sure the stalls are really private – no gap where the hinges meet the wall, for instance.

        • The Elf March 17, 2014, 5:29 pm

          Ooops, responded to the wrong one! I meant to put it one above, responding to Angeldrac.

  • Lo March 17, 2014, 7:06 am

    Well I’m used to working in an office that is about 70% women and when we had smaller bathrooms (one room with one toliet for each gender) ladies would often use the mens when the ladies was occupied. This didn’t cause too many problems because everyone was clean about it so frankly I wouldn’t mind men using the ladies if they couldn’t wait as long as they were clean about it.

    This is something only your boss or HR can handle, honestly, complain complain complain but I wouldn’t single out the offenders. Don’t be the bathroom police. Just make it clear (and get some of the other women to stand with you on this) that it’s not acceptable and you need a manager or someone to enforce it.

  • o_gal March 17, 2014, 7:08 am

    I second Liz’s suggestion of locking the bathroom and only giving keys to the ladies, as long as that’s feasible to do. I am assuming that these are exclusively your company’s bathrooms, that they are not shared bathrooms with other people in a large building. The admin’s suggestion of making it frilly is just not going to work against someone who’s willing to leave bodily fluids on a shared toilet.

  • Green123 March 17, 2014, 7:08 am

    Put a lock on the door, and give a key to the ladies ONLY. Depending on where OP is from, there may be a Health and Safety At Work issue that is the manager’s responsibility to deal with, using disciplinary action if necessary.

  • Green123 March 17, 2014, 7:10 am

    EDIT: that was my ‘sensible’ response. ‘Naughty’ me would put tampons EVERYWHERE in the ladies, along with one of those automatic air freshener boxes that squirts out the most girly scent ever at random intervals, so the offending chaps emerge from the wrong toilet all fresh and floral 🙂

  • Mya March 17, 2014, 7:27 am

    I honestly can’t imagine frilly feminine décor making the slightest difference to whether or not a person uses a particular toilet. If anything you are making it MORE inviting. The short version of this is that Offending employee, lets call him John, KNOWS he’s going to make a smell and actively chooses the ladies toilet. Whether it is deliberately or a matter of convenience, the issue here is less about the men using the ladies toilet and more about the state in which it is left. Human bodily waste is a health and safety concern and should be treated as such. If Urine or Faecal matter is left on the seat this is absolutely unacceptable in a professional environment and should be dealt with formally. If an individual is responsible, no matter how uncomfortable the conversation it MUST be dealt with. If you feel uncomfortable using a toilet after a man has been in there then this is a valid concern to raise although if the toilet cubicle is a single toilet you might struggle to justify why you are uncomfortable with unisex toilets when in your own home you will share with your significant other, guests and children.

    I think your best approach to this is to document instances of waste being left on the seat and approach HR/the manager as you can bet they will want to ‘prove’ John is at fault before taking action.

  • SS March 17, 2014, 7:29 am

    It really seems the simplest to put a separate lock on the bathroom doors and issue keys to the employees. Since there are only 10 people in the office, the creation of keys would not be a large expense.

  • Susan March 17, 2014, 8:21 am

    Why not get a lock with a key for the ladies room. make 7 keys one for each lady. If they ask ever to use rest room. Politely say. No. Just lock it

  • Deb March 17, 2014, 8:27 am

    I asked my husband for his thoughts on this. According to him, there are two reasons why some men trespass into the ladies’ room: 1. They seek privacy from other men when they feel “vulnerable,” and 2. It’s cleaner and nicer! So as much as I enjoy Admin’s idea, it probably wouldn’t change anything. If a mandate from the boss failed to correct this adolescent behavior, he/she should bypass all intermediate (and decidedly awkward) steps and simply do as Liz (above) suggests: install a lock on the door and give keys only to the ladies. Woe unto the man who complains.

  • KJR March 17, 2014, 8:32 am

    How about the locking the restroom, and only giving the ladies the key?

  • Miss-E March 17, 2014, 8:36 am

    A big display of tampons is sure to upset some fellas. If you’re in the US, an unsanitary bathroom is definitely against OSHA standards. And a guy using a women’s room is grounds for a sexual harassment suit (not that I’m advocating that, I’m just saying that its possible and your boss should keep that in mind)

  • AthenaC March 17, 2014, 8:38 am

    While it would be nice to live in a world where addressing things through the proper channels (i.e. management, HR) is effective, in this case you need to provide the incentive for people to change their behavior of their own free will.

    Admin’s advice is spot-on. I would take it even further and grab a handful of different health informational fliers the next time I was at the OB-GYN, so the restroom has a nice selection of fliers about different options for birth control and various women’s health concerns.

  • Taragail March 17, 2014, 8:40 am

    Rather than ‘girling up’ the women’s bathroom, you should try prettying up the men’s bathroom. Semi-private women’s bathrooms, like in an office, tend to look nicer and be more inviting, like a bathroom at home. Men’s bathrooms tend to be very utilitarian and stark. So make theirs more comfortable; add a magazine rack, nice soap, posters of the favorite sports team. Put a tub of cleaning wipes (not personal wipes, the actual cleaning kind) close to each toilet. I’m not saying this will solve the problem, but it certainly couldn’t hurt.

  • Phoebe161 March 17, 2014, 8:42 am

    1. No, it is not rude to confront offensive behavior.
    2. Although I love the idea of putting pictures of studs in the stalls, I would advise not. Some people consider this to be offensive and sexual harassment. If guys can’t have girly pics, then the ladies can’t have boy-toy pics.
    3. I would have cute kitten pics with the cute puppy pics. Some people just HATE cats. (I like them)
    4. Keep up the complaints to the boss. Nothing will get done without persistence.
    5. Knowing me, I probably say in a loud voice, “Hey Bob — what’s so special about the ladies restroom that you got to use it? Got PMS?” Or, “Hey Bob — be sure to read ’embarrassing article’ in X magazine in the second restroom stall. It’ll really help your Z.” Or, (better), “Hey Bob — please be neat and wipe the seat after you use the ladies restroom — and use the spray!” Embarrassing Bob may not be mannerly, but neither is dirtying up the bathroom. (I work primarily with men and am not shy, so I’m not above speaking to them.)

  • Alpaca March 17, 2014, 8:42 am

    I’d suggest taking a photograph, as some have already suggested, of the state the bathroom is in before cleaning. Then take it to the Boss and suggest that they lock the ladies room and each woman that needs to get into the ladies room, needs to get the key from boss or an appointed woman.
    The best would be if each of the three ladies gets a key to the loo.

    Boss should also send another email to everyone explaining that due to some men still using the ladies room, it will be locked effective immediatly and only female employees can get the key at [insert employee here]

  • Cecilia March 17, 2014, 8:44 am

    I agree with @Kathryn- it is not rude to politely and directly address the offenders. They stopped when the boss mentioned it, so they know it is rude and wrong.

    I also agree with those who say it is unsanitary and a health hazard. You should not have to another person’s feces and urine so that you can use the restroom. You are adults, not preschoolers. They can either use their own restroom or get in trouble with HR. I would try to speak to them once more, then all complaints would go directly to HR.

  • Rap March 17, 2014, 8:46 am

    Depending on the size of the company, talk to HR and name names. I work at a large company and a man even entering the female restroom when his is right next door would be a counseling offense. If its a small company, don’t be embarrassed to confront directly. And loudly. A few “John, you left a mess in in the ladies toilet, we understand if there’s an emergency but I’m not your mother, clean up after yourself” comments just might do the trick. Also try a few “Guys, I need to use your bathroom since James did his business in the ladies room again and now its not fit to use”.

  • lkb March 17, 2014, 8:48 am

    Seems to me someone should be asking “What’s wrong with the gents’ loo that they are using the ladies’?”

  • Lisa Marie March 17, 2014, 8:49 am

    Why don’t you ask the boss to put a lock on the ladies and only give keys to the ladies. There ya go.

  • Ally March 17, 2014, 8:51 am

    I agree with those above who mentioned this might actually be a legal issue. I’d do a little digging – making clear that the office could get in trouble should motivate the boss to actually deal with it.

  • Lenore March 17, 2014, 8:55 am

    I would just put sanitary towel advertising all over the ladies bathroom. Apparently men are super freaked out by tampons and sanitary pads.

    I don’t think it would be such a big deal if the guys actually cleaned up after themselves, am I right? It may be necessary to start locking the ladies’ room and circulating the keys amongst the 3 ladies…Drastic, but it could hammer home the point that if you don’t take care of it, you don’t get to use it…

    • Shea March 17, 2014, 12:54 pm

      The feminine hygiene product thing doesn’t work on all men, though. My boyfriend shared a washroom with his two sisters when they were growing up, and this thus immune to the mortifying effects of a box of tampons in the cabinet. It’s entirely possible that these guys won’t care either.

      I like the idea of locking the women’s room and giving only the women in the office the key. With only three women in the office, it should be a low-cost operation.

      • Lenore March 18, 2014, 1:43 am

        Personally, I think it’s silly that guys are freaked out by sanitary products 🙂

  • Elizabeth March 17, 2014, 8:58 am

    This is an issue for management to resolve. Press the appropriate person to individually speak to the offenders, daily if necessary.

  • JeanLouiseFinch March 17, 2014, 9:05 am

    I think the lock with keys for only women is the best idea. That way, nothing needs to be said and the employer is simply enforcing a rule. The frilly ladies’ room is funny, but people that use a room not intended for them and then have the nerve to leave it filthy and disgusting will not be shamed by using a frilly room. In fact, these guys may actually be expressing hostility at the women they work with by using and soiling the ladies’ room, and the frilly room could exacerbate the problem.

  • Kay L March 17, 2014, 9:09 am

    3 female employees, 3 ladies’ bathroom keys.

  • Outdoor Girl March 17, 2014, 9:13 am

    I’d look into the legal requirements for the number people per bathroom allowed by law. If it is 7 or more for males, with the boss’ permission, I’d get a locking door on the women’s bathroom and only give the key to the women. And when the men complain about the bathroom being locked, you can say that since a few people couldn’t be trusted to leave the facilities in the state they found them, you were forced into drastic measures.

  • Hillcatlady March 17, 2014, 9:32 am

    Can the women’s restroom be locked and the ladies given the keys? That was the procedure in a metal shopped I worked at many years ago. There were only 5 women and 53 men. All of us gals had the key to the ladies restroom since it was the only way to keep the guys out. Good luck.

  • EllenS March 17, 2014, 9:32 am

    I think the lock is the most practical and discreet solution. After all, the men 1) need never know it is locked unless they are trying to use it, and 2) how are they to know it is not locked because it is occupied?

  • Wild Irish Rose March 17, 2014, 9:46 am

    This is as much a matter of respect as it is a matter of etiquette. Over-girlifying the ladies’ room won’t make a bit of difference–the men in question aren’t going to care, and if they’re married, they probably have frilly bathrooms at home. It needs to be made clear to the boors that their use of the ladies’ room is OVER, not because they are men and it’s the ladies’ room, but because they can’t be bothered to clean up after themselves. That is beyond rude; that is disrespectful, unsanitary, and intolerable. Forget the passive-aggressive girliness approach–put a lock on the ladies’ room door, give each lady a key, and make it abundantly clear that unless it is an all-out emergency and the men’s room isn’t available, the men do NOT get to use the women’s restroom. This isn’t a game–this is about respect and cleanliness, and the men need to have this pounded into them. Even my son, who is a wonderful person but not the most considerate, knows better than this!

  • Goldie March 17, 2014, 10:04 am

    Team “lock with keys”. A box of tampons isn’t going to scare away someone who is already in the habit of walking into a ladies’ room in his coworkers’ full view, and leaving his waste all over the seat after he’s done his business in there.

  • magicdomino March 17, 2014, 10:18 am

    Usually, it is the women sneaking into the men’s room — but maybe that is only at concerts where the line for the ladies’ room is a block long. 🙂 Frilling up the ladies room is tempting, but the real problem is the mess. I’d check with management/HR about solving the situation — keys are a good start. Unfortunately, scolding notes are often ignored, unless they are clever enough to be posted on the Passive-Aggressive Notes website.

  • Stacey Frith-Smith March 17, 2014, 10:20 am

    I agree with the idea of mild sabotage through the medium of redecoration. The matter of cleanliness should also be addressed, regardless of who is using which bathroom. Finally- with such compulsive and antisocial behavior, I’d be looking for evidence of cameras and similar items. It’s a shame to mention such a thing- but using the restroom and leaving it in such a state of disarray after having been called out for it suggests, albeit as a mere possibility, more than a problem of etiquette. It has an appearance of hostility and disrespect.

    • Wild Irish Rose March 18, 2014, 8:44 am

      Wow, I didn’t even think of the camera possibility!!!!

  • Michele K. March 17, 2014, 10:32 am

    Take this to the boss again. HR if you have it. This is not a matter of etiquette as much as a workplace/legal issue.

    Several years ago I worked in a two-story office building, occupied by a single company. Each floor had a set of men’s/women’s bathrooms, in the same position on the floor plan. The plumbing in the women’s bathrooms on both floors was having major plumbing problems. To fix the problem permanently, they had to rip into walls, do replumbing, and fix everything. So, the bathrooms were going to be down several days once the repairs started.

    To give each gender its own bathroom during this repair period, they designated the first floor men’s bathroom as the temporary women’s bathroom and the men would use the second floor’s bathroom only. (An elevator was available for anyone with mobility issues). There were big signs on the doors making sure everyone was aware of what was going on. The company made an announcement at the weekly staff meeting a few days prior and sent an email reminder out the day the repairs began.

    Except we had one guy that refused to use the second floor bathroom. His cubicle was just steps away from the first floor bathroom. He would wait until he thought no woman was in that bathroom and then go do his business. He was verbally warned by HR after being caught a couple of times.

    Well, that didn’t stop him apparently. On the afternoon of the second day, I saw the guy coming out of the bathroom rather quickly with one of our female co-workers right on his heels. She is calling him “pervert” and few other names. They both get called into HR to sort things out.

    I found out what happened from the female co-worker. She had been in one of the stalls finishing up when he comes into the bathroom. He goes up to one of the urinals and starts unzipping to do his thing. She comes out of the stall, and it apparently startled him. He whips around with his pants unzipped and certain things ….um visible. She starts yelling at the guy and essentially chased him out of the bathroom, all the while he is trying to tuck things in and zip up.

    The guy didn’t get fired for it. But, he got a formal written reprimand and warning. He left the company a few months later.

    • Enna March 18, 2014, 12:23 pm

      This is why seperate toliets are important for both men and women: it stops accidents happening as well as thigs of a more sinsiter nature. This man may not have been dangerous but he had already had one warning that if he had heeded to the situation would have been avoided. Makes you wonder why he ignored the first warning? Silly carelessness I think.

      Best thing the OP in this post can do is go to the boss and inist that the men use the men’s toliet – if one man is only defecating in the ladies then that is not on – would he want used sanitary towels left in his toliet? No. Where I work we only have one staff toliet but that is all enclosed with it’s own sink and hand dryer and there is no problem. However if an office has toliets for men and women it should be that way.

  • SS March 17, 2014, 10:53 am

    Although the idea of the perfume scents is humorous, please don’t do it for real . Those of us females with breathing problems would be unable to use the bathroom. I have asthma and I have had times that I couldn’t even stay in the room long enough to wash my hands because of the cloud of perfume and hairspray. I was already wheezing and my lungs were closing up by the time I finished in the stall.

  • LonelyHound March 17, 2014, 10:54 am

    Angeldrac- There can be legal implications for the boss if it were discovered that the gents were using the ladies as a way to spy on their femle co-workers. I am not saying this is the case at all. However, there has been more than one case of a man prosecuted for planting cameras in the ladies room as a way to see women with, well, their pants down. Since, the boss does know this is going on it can be used against him if one of the ladies feels like she is being spied on or, since this is so on going, one lady decides that this is a passive aggressive sexual harassment. A little extreme, I know, but not out of the realm of possibility.

    My evil side says, use the men’s room during “that time of the month”; and leave pad wrappers/tampon wrappers on the floor (clean ones, not dirty ones), and place a back-up pile of tampons/pads on the toilet or near the sink. When confronted about it say, “Oh, well, the gents use the ladies so much that I got tired of sitting on a dirty pad waiting for them to clear out. I decided to use their bathroom and leave a “just in case” pile since one can never tell when they will be using the ladies bathroom.” Unfortunately, that is stooping to their level.

    The only thing I can think of is looking up labor laws/regulations or OSHA regulations, and seeing what is said about separate restrooms. Or suggest to your boss that he make both restrooms unisex because, as it stands currently, when a man is using the ladies room, their is no place for the ladies to take care of business. Being a very small company it is hard to do much else.

  • Jennifer March 17, 2014, 10:54 am

    While the idea of frillying up the ladies bathroom sounds like a funny idea I think that this guy is not going to be deterred by this. A lock would also be a decent idea but from someone who suffered from a gallbladder issue that would leave me sprinting for a bathroom that would leave me vulnerable to a very embarrassing moment, especially if the person who was key-master wasn’t at her desk/I forgot the key in my haste. I think the best idea is to go to the boss, personally this time and not in an email, and explain that the offender is still using the ladies bathroom and OP is getting very uncomfortable with it/tired of having to clean a bathroom before using it. If the boss doesn’t do anything to stop it, other than just another email, I would suggest going to HR and telling them, this time with documentation of health codes and pictures of the bathroom. Now is the time to be confrontational and not just send an email asking for “whoever” is using the bathroom to stop, now is the time to be specific and let the boss know that John Doe keeps using the ladies bathroom even when the mens room is empty.

  • mark March 17, 2014, 11:43 am

    Just for what its worth, I’ve occasionally done some light janitorial work in the past, and I never noticed that either gender really was much cleaner than the other. (Some opinion on the internet actually says that the female facilities are usually messier/grosser.) My work site has a crew that is constantly circulating through the facility cleaning up the bathrooms, and they aren’t bad, but sometimes they still can be gross.

    I think in this case the bathrooms probably would be best converted to unisex and get on people to keep them clean. Right now the gender ratio at this work place is already over 2:1, if one female leaves and a male is hired the ratio would be 4:1, which would be a real chore. And quite frankly if the option is between turning weird colors and using the single stall female bathroom. I’ll use the female bathroom.

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