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The following local laws broadly shape access to public restrooms:
Per a 2014 New York State law, it is illegal for businesses to deny restroom use to people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s disease, colitis, and other medical conditions that affect the digestion, even if they are not patrons of that business establishment. This includes access to employee-only bathrooms. The New York law was inspired by Illinois’ “Ally’s Law,” named for a teen with Crohn’s disease that was denied bathroom usage during a bowel emergency.
- Should all the resources on this site fail you, public urination has been decriminalized in NYC since 2017. In an effort to quell some of the effects of broken windows policing - which prioritized the criminalization of “lifestyle offenses” like littering, urination, and subway fare evasion, the New York City Council passed the Criminal Justice Reform Act of 2017, which moved public urination from criminal to civil court. Indeed, it is still prohibited, but getting caught for public urination will no longer require involvement with the criminal justice system, unless the police deem your act particularly egregious. Proximity to schools or playgrounds would render the act of public urination egregious. For many reasons, we do not recommend public urination; if you choose this tactic, you do so at your own risk.