Construction Company Settles on Suit over Bathroom Breaks for Women

November 5, 2009 ( - A woman who said she had to wear adult diapers to her job with a construction company because it would not provide portable toilets was granted a $150,000 settlement in a gender discrimination suit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The Philadelphia Daily News reports that four other female employees of Danella Construction Corp., of Plymouth Meeting, who also claimed that they were discriminated against because of their sex, split an additional $50,000. The consent decree filed in federal court November 4, is pending judicial approval.

Lisa Drozdowski, who began working as a flagger for Danella in 2005, said that although men at construction sites would urinate in holes or behind backhoes and trucks, she was sometimes had to walk a quarter mile to her car and drive five to 10 minutes to find the nearest restroom, according to the news report. If other female flaggers were present, they would shield each other from passing cars and co-workers with blankets while they relieved themselves, but several times, while Drozdowski was the only woman on a job, by the time she was granted a bathroom break, it was too late and she had urinated on herself, she said.

A single mother of three at the time that she was employed with the company, Drozdowski said she couldn’t quit because she had to support her family, so she started wearing Depends adult diapers to work every day.

In a similar case last year, an Ohio court said that “given the obvious anatomical and biological differences between men and women, and the unique hygienic needs of women, … the practice of requiring women to urinate off the side of a crane in lieu of restroom breaks, if true, would have a significant discriminatory impact on women.” (See When You Gotta Go… Court Finds Restroom Break Policy Discriminatory )

Drozdowski also claimed that when she asked to be promoted to a laborer’s position, she was told by management that the company did not hire female laborers. When she complained about both issues, the company stopped giving her work. A retaliation claim was also included in the suit brought by the EEOC.

In a statement provided by Danella’s lawyer, the company denied the claims and said it has always provided restrooms at its work sites. According to the statement, the company entered into the consent decree to end “expensive and distracting” litigation.

The lawsuit is here .