employee uses the bathroom stall with the door wide open

A reader writes:

I have (what I think is) an outlandish question for you, but I promise it’s true. It comes from my coworker’s spouse.

At her place of employment, they have found it difficult to retain anyone in the administrative assistant position. It sounds like there was a lot of turnover in that role, to the point that management is desperate to retain someone … anyone! The current admin assistant, lets call her Feyre, has some personal hygiene issues (i.e. not showering, coming to work unkempt in worn sweatpants, etc.) which had to be addressed by whoever oversees her.

While addressing personal hygiene is not out of the realm of possibilities in the workplace, one startling revelation was that other coworkers have walked into the bathroom where Feyre was “doing her business” with the stall door wide open! The affronted other employee excused themselves immediately and thought it an accident. However, this kept happening and a pattern emerged.
Management approached Feyre with this, and she said she has severe claustrophobia where she can’t use the bathroom with the door closed. In order to accommodate her, management made it clear she must either shut the stall door or use the private accessible toilet down the hall. She has refused to do this, and is still using the toilet with the stall door wide open. As management is desperate to retain someone in this position and her work is mildly satisfactory, they still want to keep her.

I’m obviously not in this situation as I don’t work there, but I do a lot of the hiring/HR at my smaller organization so I am both horrified and fascinated at what management’s next steps should be. We are in Canada so the laws may vary, but at what point does the employer exceed their duty to accommodate an employee for something like this? What would be the best way for management to navigate this situation?!

There are all kinds of accommodations that can be made for claustrophobia, but “use the toilet with the door wide open in a bathroom where other people are present” is not one of them. I can’t speak to Canadian law, but I suspect it’s the same as U.S. law in this circumstance: accommodations can’t require that other people’s rights be violated, and Feyre’s coworkers have the right not be subject to an practice that involves them being repeatedly and involuntarily exposed to a colleague with her pants down.

Having Feyre use the private accessible toilet down the hall was a good solution. Since she’s refused to do that, they need to find out why. Is it too far from her desk and she sometimes needs the bathroom more urgently? If so, can her desk be moved? Or is it a closed door that’s the issue for her, period? If so, they need a lawyer to guide them here. My instinct is that that’s a situation that can’t be resolved — because, again, accommodations can’t violate other people’s rights (which is why you can’t, for example, set accommodations that include things like “never has to speak to female employees” or “must be permitted to run nude through the hallways”) — but when you’re at the point of denying a medical accommodation, you want a lawyer to help you navigate it.

In this case, it sounds like the employer wants to throw up their hands and say, “Oh well, she’s going to use the bathroom with the door open, nothing we can do” because they want to keep her in the job. But the employees there would be on solid footing if they wanted to push back and say, “No, we’re not willing to be exposed to this.”

{ 460 comments… read them below }

    1. different seudonym*

      I’ve actually known several children-of-hippies who were raised to not shut the door. They were shaky on the handwashing part too! I genuinely have no idea why, but they were raised on opposite coasts and didn’t have any obvious shared culture or experiences (other than being, like I said, the children of [white] hippies.) Most figured it out in early adulthood, amid intense shame. I thought this letter would be about the same issue, but apparently not!

      1. Bananapantsoff*

        I was raised (by Boomers!) to keep the door open, so I always did. Until we moved to a new house when I was about 8 and my mom asked me why I always left the door open. Huh? Because you and dad told me to! She absolutely snort-laughed when I said that, and then clarified that she only wanted me to do that when I was little because they were afraid that I’d lock myself in the bathroom accidentally because our first house was quite old and had sticky locks. When I was little, she didn’t think I needed the extra explanation, but she realized in hindsight the clarity would have proved useful. I’m in my 50s now and if I mention within earshot that I need to use the bathroom, she still pipes up with “Just close the damn door when you go!”

        1. Eulerian*

          Agh, my parents did this – told me not to lock the door. Until one day my brother walked in on me, told my mum and dad – and once I was out, my mum dragged me across the hall and started screaming at me. Wouldn’t hear that she told me to not lock the door. My dad watched, then simply said “yeah we told her not to – but maybe it’s time for that to stop”.

        2. littlehope*

          I mean, I grew up in a house where we were not especially punctilious about closing bathroom doors (it wasn’t a policy or anything, it just wasn’t an issue if you ducked in real quick and didn’t shut the door all the way. We’re not a particularly modest family, I dunno), but we knew enough to make sure we shut the doors when we had people over, never mind AT WORK.

      2. Hippie Jr*

        As the child of a (white) hippie, what??? I was definitely taught about privacy and hygiene. I think this must be a random coincidence.

        1. Rebecca*

          Yes, also raised by hippies. My parents were actually very strict about privacy and I definitely bathed regularly.

      3. Echo*

        ROFL, we kids of hippies are raised not to feel obligated to shut the door AT HOME, it was always clarified that a closed door for privacy was expected at school and at friends’ houses!

      4. OMG, Bees!*

        I had a friend who would close the bathroom door, but rarely lock it. There have been several incidents where someone would walk in on him using it and he would blow up at them cuz they shouldn’t have walked in on him! Needless to say, he had a lot of questionable ideas

        1. Acey*

          Many homes don’t have locks on bathroom doors — why would you need them, why would anyone try to go in when the door is shut without knocking first? If everyone’s used to bathroom doors not having a lock, it’s normal. The conflict comes in when you encounter people who are used to locking doors. Either they just barge in on you if you don’t lock it (or don’t have a lock), or they freak out when they see the bathroom doesn’t have a lock.

    2. MigraineMonth*

      I’m embarrassed to say my first reaction was “Why is this such a big deal? My coworkers relieve themselves in front of me, and they complain when I close the bathroom door.”

      Permanent work-from-home with cats is definitely warping my workplace norms.

      1. Random Bystander*

        Yes, I have some who insist on supervising me. (They were feral-born, so that may be a factor.)

        1. Princess Sparklepony*

          I had one feline housemate that felt that the lap created by sitting on the toilet was her place to be. That did not go over well for either of us.

        2. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

          Omg, yes, sometimes my cat sits on top of the vanity next to the toilet and taps me on the shoulder with her paw until I pet her…over and over, lol.

      2. pagooey*

        Yes, my cats are committed to Potty Patrol check-ins, and my house is old and crooked and the latch doesn’t always stick. I have to warn guests that they might get a visit.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        Peanut, when shut out of the bathroom during Husband’s ablutions, wails brokenheartedly at the door. When I’m in there he’s not as insistent, except in the middle of the night when he might be able to trip and kill me.

      4. Reluctant Mezzo*

        My feline mistress insist that I fill the bathtub ‘just a little bit’ to form a pool and ignore the perfectly fresh bowl of water by the bathtub. Guess when she asks me to do it. :)

        1. OMG, Bees!*

          For over 2 years, our Perrin decided he would only drink out of the bathroom sink. It was always odd but silly to walk by the bathroom and just see him sitting at the sink, patiently waiting for someone to turn on the water for him! (Or other time, sit on the toilet like a throne, waiting for the sink). Only stopped when we replaced the sink, the new one doesnt work for him, so we moved the water bowl away from the wet food and now he drinks it like normal

  1. ChemistryChick*

    Just when I think I’ve seen all the possible bathroom related work issues, I’m surprised again.

    And yeah, “using the bathroom with the stall door wide open” is definitely not an acceptable solution. That company should consider whether it wants to go through hiring a single admin assistant or multiple other positions…because I would definitely consider leaving if my management told me “Welp, you just get to deal with seeing your coworker in a state of undress. Sorry!”

    1. Spacewoman Spiff*

      When I started reading I thought, no way this is real…and then I remembered that I used to have a coworker who did just this. (Clearly I’ve tried to block it.) The first time I walked in to see her sitting on the toilet I thought the latch on her door had just come undone (and she was oddly calm about it), but then it kept happening and I was so confused about how to handle it that I just started going to the bathroom on a different floor.

      1. birb*

        Not at work, thankfully, but I’ve known people who do this, and it is more common than you’d think from my days in retail when I had to do bathroom checks. I sincerely think this is a weird power / control play. Can you ride in a car? A elevator? You can use an accessible stall with the door closed.

        1. Name Anxiety*

          Definitely encountered this in retail and DEFINITELY a weird power play/sexual harassment in that situation. We had single stalls and one customer (man) in particular would never lock the door and would never respond when someone knocked so you were constantly rolling the dice if you had to use the bathroom. Once the door would open he would respond with a hearty “Come on in!” If anyone in the breakroom had already seen him go in, they would usually run down the stairs to save a coworker, but a few customers must have been impacted too.

        2. Charlotte Lucas*

          And it sounds like there’s an option to use a single person bathroom. Those are usually pretty big, because they’re designed to accommodate mobility devices and strollers.

      2. What_the_What*

        I’m sorry.. What the What? I am also claustrophobic, but I handle it by using the handicapped stall, or the family restroom when available. I do NOT subject other people to seeing my….anything! I wonder if these people are REALLLLY that claustrophobic, or … closet exhibitionists. That’s just beyond the pale!

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          I’ve known exhibitionists in the past, and they’re usually focused on the sexual aspect of things, not the bathroom aspect of things…. this is just weird.

          1. What_the_What*

            I never underestimate the weirdness of people or their willingness to do freaky things!

            1. Princess Sparklepony*

              Exactly. If there is a weirdness out there, there is a freak out there doing it!

              1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

                Absolutely agree. Among other things, for some people the line between the sexual aspect of things and the bathroom aspect of things is not that clearly drawn, shall we say. (See also: fetishes concerning bathroom activities.)

        2. Kotow*

          Exactly. I mean, this person obviously goes out in public to a certain extent and likely has had to use the restroom there as well. Presumably, they’re not doing this in the grocery store as well.

      3. Dasein9 (he/him)*

        So, apparently men in the Chicago area often do use a stall without shutting the door, as long as they’re standing up. (As at a urinal.) After moving to Chicago, I did discover this to be true.

        But I first heard about it in New York, when a classmate from Chicago told the story of his first day in town: After moving in, he went to the corner bar for a beer. Then he went to the bathroom and used the stall without closing the door. A very drunk guy rounded the corner into the stall, expecting it to be empty, and vomited all over my friend’s back. He had to walk home that way in his new neighborhood.

        1. Antilles*

          I’ve seen that at every sporting event I’ve ever been to and plenty of bars and never thought twice about it. And really is there any difference between peeing at a stall standing up versus your standard urinal?
          If anything, the stall has more privacy than your average side by side urinals, far more than the against-the-wall troughs, and way way more than the center-of-the-room double-sided troughs.

          1. Working Class Lady*

            I’ve only been to Chicago once, on vacation, 10 years ago. I don’t have any family there at all.
            I had no idea that was a thing

          2. LockTheDoor*

            The difference is that the stall door is usually partially closed against the person’s back, making the stall look empty – until you suddenly discover there is someone there peeing.

          3. Princess Sparklepony*

            I was just thinking that if you are getting drunk, the walls might also provide some support for those who aren’t steady on their feet, so I can see using the stall instead of the open urinals. But still – close the darned door.

        2. Needs Coffee*

          Doubt it’s just Chicago.

          I was at work one day, using the restroom, someone came in, entered the next stall over. Something struck me as odd.

          Therefore, when I exited my stall, I was gobsmacked by not startled at seeing a man’s back in the next stall.

          We were in the ladies’ room.

          The tipoff had been men’s shoes on the floor and, well, sitting down fluid dynamics sound different than standing-up fluid dynamics.

          The well-marked ladies’ room was not 10 steps away from the well-marked men’s restroom. And given that he was attending an event at our site, the most likely route of approach would have meant PASSING the latter to get to the former.

          I skipped my boss. He’d think it was hilarious and not do anything about it. I skipped the upper management on site, because they were so non-confrontational, their response would have been something like, “If you’re concerned, don’t use the restroom.”

          I was pretty good friends with one guy who technically had a supervisory role, of sorts. He was properly horrified, and spoke to the conference organizer. Who was also properly horrified, and gave a lesson on how to locate the correct restroom to all attendees.

          Lest one think I am being insensitive to various varieties of human presentation, preference, etc, I would have thought it unexpected but unworthy of note if the door had been shut. Unfortunately, this was also a particular industry/locale/culture that was not friendly to deviations from cis/het norms.

          As it was, I was just glad I was the person who experienced it, because if certain of my colleagues had, the drama would have been substantial.

      4. m0rjin*

        Oh my! I’m the LW and when I first heard this story I thought there is no way people do this….. I can’t believe other people in the comments share this experience. Gross.

      5. Chirpy*

        I’ve seen this in a bar…it was a single user bathroom that opened into the main bar, directly across from the entrance. Guy was just in there doing hs business with the door wide open, WTF.

        This was the kind of bar that was also known for really good food, so it was dinnertime and not like, 2am. And it wasn’t common, but you could potentially have kids in there.

        1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

          Given the context of the letter, when you said “you could potentially have kids in there” my mind went to “giving birth”

          1. Chirpy*

            I mean…small town with the nearest hospital over half an hour away…I guess there’s worse places, haha

        2. Dog momma*

          And that could be considered public lewdness. Esp if kids present. Management should have been notified and spoken to him. If no change in behavior, the police will escort him to a really nice cell where he can use the toilet in full view of everyone to his hearts content. and he can have a no trespassing notice to that particular bar. No patron should have to put up with that!

          1. Chirpy*

            This was a small town, there were no cops there, so calling one was a major production and reserved for “actual” crime. I’m sure one of the bartenders would have been willing to intimidate the guy, though (it was so long ago I don’t remember what the resolution was, if any.)

      6. M. Magpie*

        Going to out myself here. After returning to work after years with kids, toddlers at that time. I strolled into the bathroom at work, perhaps five stalls, and went into a stall, dropped trou, proceeded to do my business, then finished and as I was washing my hands, the feeling of doom came over me. No one was there or saw me, but after years of “Mommy, mom? mooooom!” I’d gone feral. It never happened again, because I was vigilant, but this letter hit me. Circumstances different of course, but I can’t imagine my own shame had anyone else walked in!

        1. Boof*

          As a mom, I feel you; I mean I’ve managed to shut doors because we’re in a multigenerational household but usually there’s a crowd in there with me D: Probably “helping” me shut the door even haha (hey, any way to get an inch of space without wailing…)

        2. Adds*

          To commiserate with you … After spending a week canoeing in the Boundary Waters with only pit toilets I will admit that I *almost* forgot to flush the first time after returning to the world of running water. I’m glad it was almost because it was at a Pizza Hut and we were not the only people there for dinner. It doesn’t take very long to go feral.

        3. goddessoftransitory*

          This reminds me of the scene in Mr. Mom where Terri Garr is at a business dinner with her boss, and automatically reaches over and starts cutting his steak up for him.

    1. Bunny Girl*

      I was just about to ask something similar. Why are people so weird about their bathroom habits at work? Like is this some weird power play because it’s the only small amount of control you have in the work place?

      I had a coworker who was an admin assistant to two (TWO) different people who straight up peed in their office on their chairs. What are y’all doing out there?

      1. doreen*

        About the chairs – I don’t know anyone involved so just bringing this up as a possibility. It might not be intentional. I’m pretty sure I leaked some urine on my office chair at least a couple of times before I got a cushion for it that I could take home and wash.

        1. Bunny Girl*

          I’m not sure they were intentional either. But it wasn’t like a leak. It was like a full on pee. Which, I fully understand human bodies are weird and sometimes do unfortunate and embarrassing things. But just the fact that it happened twice to the same person makes me think she might have gotten a tad unlucky.

      2. Abundant Shrimp*

        When the breakroom kitchen sink was right there! Baffling.

        (no, all jokes aside, baffling and gross. What did your ex-coworker do to get out of those situations?)

    2. Audogs*

      …. and she refused. “She has refused to do this …” Whenever we see this in the posts its a bananapants warning.

      1. Chanel No. π*

        There have to be bosses, at least in at-will states, who respond, “Well, then I refuse to continue your employment here.” But then there’s no reason for anyone to write to AAM!

    3. EC*

      And why don’t people just fire the ones who can’t act like human beings immediately? When the admin came in gross and dressed inappropriately the second time after getting one warning she should have been out. Why do workplaces tolerate disgusting employees?

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I understand that a great admin is pure gold and you’d bend over backwards to keep them… but she doesn’t even sound like a passable one. Are there really no other candidates? At what point is it better to take someone without much training/experience and train them than to settle for someone who regularly appears semi-undressed in front of her coworkers?

        1. Rebecca*

          Maybe the manager sucks and the pay is terrible? Why else would the turnover be so high? I can believe that they genuinely can’t find anyone if the turnover is like she describes it. That almost always means that something about the job is truly awful.

      2. Cat Tree*

        A lot of times they do get fired, but then their coworkers wouldn’t have a reason to write in to this site about it. Maybe Freye herself has gotten fired for it, and that’s why she’s willing to work at a place that is so terrible they can’t keep any other employee in that position.

  2. Tina*

    Could they have Feyre put a sign on the door that indicates when she’s in there? It doesn’t have to say “yikes Feyre is afoot” but it could just say “Privacy please” or “Occupied.”

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      This was my thought, too. A sign on the door that can be flipped to say “Occupied.”

    2. Monkeybrain*

      Or a bolt lock on the washroom that Feyre uses, so that Feyre can lock the door when she’s in there? More effective than a sign (which could be missed), and employees who are locked out while Feyre’s in the washroom could still use the accessible stall down the hall.

      1. What_the_What*

        Yeah that was my first thought and it’d be super easy to do (*note* I have no idea if or why there would be any code violations, but presumably it’s doable). But honestly, she’s simply being unreasonable when they gave her a perfectly reasonable suggestion to use the private one seater down the hall (unless “down the hall means all the way at the other end of the building 3 city blocks away, of course). I don’t care how desperate you are to keep a worker, this is unacceptable.

        1. Karma is My Boyfriend and so is Travis Kelce*

          OSHA requires reasonable access to restrooms, and if the LW did this often, one could complain to OSHa (or a Canadian equivalent??). Then they’d have to figure out yet another solution.

          1. GythaOgden*

            I’m now intrigued as to what the UK HSE requires. I know a lot about fire regulations through who I work with and my own training (in fact the other weekend I had to act as the neighbourhood fire warden when it looked like a yard a few doors down had accidentally opened a portal to Satan’s bedroom — seek out the source of the fire, make sure people are ok and then call the fire brigade), but as I work in facilities myself, it might be time to brush up on the water aspects of those regulations.

      2. Dog momma*

        Yeah, I don’t think I’d want to follow her after she’s used the facilities. If she’s disheveled and dirty there might be pee..or worse all over the seat. Gross

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yeah, if there are enough bathrooms in the building the only accommodation I can think of is to say she has to lock the whole bathroom to make sure she is the only one in there. I recently visited my old college and the theater department had signs on the men’s and women’s bathrooms designating that they were currently to be used as gender neutral bathrooms and that if you were not comfortable with that you could lock the main door and use the whole room alone.

        Though if her issue is claustrophobia maybe the act of locking the door would cause her trouble I suppose.

    3. Happy meal with extra happy*

      I think that depends on how many stalls are available in other bathrooms (if there are any)/how many people use them. If this is the only bathroom besides the single occupant one, depending on how often she uses it, I don’t think it’s reasonable to close it off multiple times a day.

      1. UKDancer*

        Agreed. You can’t make everyone else queue for the single occupancy WC when there’s a row of others that Feyre has exclusive access to. That’s going to lead to a lot of other unhappy people in the company.

    4. Lana Kane*

      This means others have to wait to use the bathroom, when there are other stalls available. Or they’re the ones who have to schlep to the accessible bathroom, and then possibly keep someone who needs it from using it. Feyre needs to use the accessible bathroom or close the door.

    5. JSPA*

      Yes, that seems far the simplest option for all concerned. It’s also the best way to distinguish between claustrophobia (obviously a real thing) and exhibitionism (also a real thing).

      On the one hand, I have sympathy for Feyre, whose life sounds challenging, and whose challenges sound like something that’s too-often dismissed as “not trying” or “not understanding norms” or “not caring.” (Claustrophobia can also make reaching into closets or taking showers challenging; equally, claustrophobia can be one facet of PTSD, and co-occur with other aspects.) I don’t want to be unkind about all of that.

      But…that’s a reason to get more support. And in the meantime, to find a job that can TRULY accomodate your inability to be reliably non-stinky and non-naked in the workplace.

      As for the department…is there no way this job can be largely remote / WFH? Or (with apologies to Feyre, who may very much need this job) is there no way they can pay adequately to get a larger selection of potential employees, such that they’re not winding themselves in knots to deal with someone who seems not currently well-suited for in-office work, in this particular office?

      1. Santiago*

        My liege, Feyre is sh1tting with the door open. ???
        I’m sorry she has claustrophobia but there is Something Further going on.

    6. Siege*

      I mean, it’s a lot simpler to fire someone whose work is described as “mildly satisfactory” and who had to be coached on basic hygiene and has now lived on to sexually assaulting her coworkers.

      1. JSPA*

        “indecent exposure” requires an intent to shock or frighten, and often an intent to thereby seek sexual gratification. And even then, it’s usually categorized as a separate sort of “nonconsensual sexual interaction” than “sexual assault” is (the laws in your state or province etc may vary). Jumping directly to “assault” as the default reading, when another reason has been put forward, is granting yourself a whole lot of omniscience that none of us here have.

        1. Bert*

          Sometimes you need to assume the worst to stop something happening. That’s why the third time lil Jimmy comes to school black and blue because he’s clumsy you tell someone.

        2. Dog momma*

          Indecent exposure can also be someone who’s high on drugs/ had too much to drink and just pees up against the wall of a bldg..outside. It can also be public lewdness. Depends on the law and the arresting officer

    7. EC*

      Why not just get rid of her? She’s already been reprimanded for being gross already, just fire her.

    8. Alice in Spreadsheetland*

      The problem with this is it prevents all the other employees from using the shared bathroom every time she’s in there- which is why they offered Feyre the single-person bathroom, so that one employee isn’t effectively taking up all the stalls at once.

      Giving the employee that’s comfortable exposing themselves to their colleagues control over the shared bathroom while they all have to use the single-person one isn’t a fair solution at all (and if they have an employee who relies on the accessible stall could conflict with others’ medical needs). And considering she doesn’t seem bothered by people walking in on her, who’s to say she’d use the sign?

    9. TootsNYC*

      this seems like the most obvious solution

      I’m assuming that the single-person bathroom down the hall still feels claustrophobic, too hemmed in. Those are not normally large. Plus, they’re still a single closed room. And having at least one door open (the stall door) makes her feel like she could escape if she has too.

      Just give her a door hanger and insist that she use it.

      Personally, if I knew this issue, I’d just back out of the bathroom and wait for her to be done.

      (well, personally I’d just go in the other stall, making it a point not to LOOK in the stall that Feyre is in. It’s not that hard. I can control whether I see her privates or not by averting my eyes. But I guess I wouldn’t ask others to have the same blasé approach.)

      1. Princess Sparklepony*

        The only other thing I can think of is putting up a pressure curtain rod and hanging a curtain. Would that be less restrictive than a door or the same thing?

      2. BTDT*

        No, she needs to use the single person restroom or get fired. But there is a bad boss involved who refuses to fire this person.

    10. GythaOgden*

      Nope. Firstly it takes the bathroom out of use altogether, and secondly it’s essentially rewarding her and enabling the behaviour rather than forcing her to recognise that she needs to sort herself out properly or lose her job.

      I totally get the psychological issues she might be under, but everyone has their demons to some extent and everyone has to be able to manage them. There are people out there who could help Feyre overcome hers, but like e.g. the stories about office hoarders or whatever, they’re generally not going to be her work colleagues; they need to be therapists or other professionals who have the training and the detachment from their own issues to intervene and help Feyre positively.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        I don’t think the organization should be making assessments about “rewarding” or “enabling” her behaviour. The boss can’t put herself in a pseudo-therapist role like this. That’s not good for anyone. The focus needs to be on what reasonable accommodations can be made and what the basic requirements for her are (e.g., no more exposing herself to co-workers).

  3. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

    Can she lock the bathroom door from the inside so that she’s the only one using the bathroom at any given time? Not that it’s a great solution, but…

    If it’s a multi-stall bathroom (and it sounds like it is) could she use the one farthest from the door and put some sort of flag out of the stall so that others know she’s there?

    I can’t wait to know what happens with this, though.

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      I don’t think that locking the door would work for someone with claustrophobia. But the other suggestions could work, depending on the set-up of the washroom.

    2. juliebulie*

      Locking the door could become a serious hazard if something happens to her while she’s in the bathroom.

      But using the stall on the end seems pretty reasonable. Often that’s the accessible stall, nice and roomy – and not claustrophobic at all but then I’m not claustrophobic.

      1. Galentine*

        Locking the door on a communal bathroom isn’t any different, safety-wise, than locking the door on an individual bathroom. It would just mean that Feyre is taking up the entire communal bathroom and the employees would have to take turns using the single bathroom.

        1. JSPA*

          Bathroom doors designed to be locked are supposed to have a key or over-ride, in case of emergency (and stalls are supposed to be accessible from below or above, if there’s a bolt-type lock on the door). Adding a simple bolt to the main door would not handle this problem.

      2. What_the_What*

        “Locking the door could become a serious hazard if something happens to her while she’s in the bathroom.”

        Well, presumably the singler person accessible restroom down the hall…has a lock on it, so I’m not sure how different it would be. Either way, if something happened, she’d be on the other side of a locked door.

      3. Michelle*

        Don’t most people lock the door while in the bathroom? Even if it’s just a stall, the latch that holds the door closed isn’t designed to be opened from the outside, and every single-user public bathroom I’ve ever seen has an actual lock on the door. Just make sure somebody has a key to open it from the outside in an emergency (which should happen anyway!)

    3. lost academic*

      I feel like this can be solved by posting a sign on the outer door to the multistall bathroom so that people know it’s happening and wait. We’ll assume without any other reason not to that this open stall situation is for a truly necessary reason and the details from the letter support that likelihood (using a closed door single stall bathroom seems very likely to cause a similar sort of claustrophobia type panic). But management has to make clear expectations and hold her to them.

    4. MistOrMister*

      I’m not sure if things are any different in Canada, but in the office buildings I’ve been in here in the US, the sinks and mirrors are directly across from the toilet stalls. Anyone doing their business with the door open, even down at the end of the row is going to be fully visible in the mirrors. Should you manage to noy get an eyeful when entering, if you finish before them you are then going to have the most uncomfortable handwashing experience ever as you desperately try to not look in the mirror. God help you if you wanted to brush your teeth or refresh your makeup.

      1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

        Yeah, I thought about that after typing the reply, but at least it’s something. Also, I hate those mirrors and the nanosecond I had the opportunity to get it out of my house, I took it. Now I have no mirror and pictures of jellyfish on the walls. Much more pleasant.

      2. JSPA*

        In practical terms, you could tape plastic over the last mirror, I guess. Or if the problem is airflow, light, and the sense of being locked in, add a translucent curtain that can be used in place of the door of one stall. (Not that the door is removed, but that the curtain can be pulled.)

        But I’m also rethinking a gender double standard, here. Men walk past men peeing at urinals all the dang time. And there’s at least as much genital display at a urinal as there is while seated on a toilet.

        I recently was in a major european airport where the women’s room was under emergency repairs, the men’s was doing double duty, and women as well as men were walking past in-use urinals. Everybody just averted their eyes as needed.

        And it was more common than not at the bars and clubs I used to go to, for women to invade the mens room, if the women’s line was many times longer. Didn’t stop men from using the urinals.

        And one of the buildings at our university first took all the doors off the stalls in the men’s room, then put in tiny quarter doors that left nothing to the imagination, with a goal of cutting down on cruising and related activities in the stalls.

        And I’ve certainly used the female equivalent (more often put in after drug overdoses). I can’t say I like it, but having to pee is having to pee, and mostly people manage.

        To be clear, I don’t think seeing coworkers using the toilet should ever be required in the workplace.

        But I also think we probably default to an “absolute no” on the internet more completely than we’d actually do in real life.

        Partly because in person we can assess if when faced with a situation that’s a legitimate (and legitimized) “need” (e.g. an out-of-order on the women’s, a hand-written “and women’s” sign in three languages taped under the “mens”; or a “bathroom in use” with the knowledge that this means Feyre is in there, and you’re welcome to use it or wait, as you see fit). The biggest negative sensation or reaction comes from having the maybe-its-skeevey feeling that someone is breaking (and then trampling and peeing on) the social contract, for no good reason. Or for an actively bad reason.

        1. Nonanon*

          I don’t think this is an apples to apples situation; it appears from the letter that MULTIPLE coworkers have addressed their discomfort with the empolyee doing this, and they do not want to change their behavior. For example, if someone who uses a urinal expressed discomfort with others using urinals at the same time as them, the solution is to use a single-person stall. If there’s only a restroom with urinals and one without, and the one without is down for maintenance, its users should not be “forced” to use the one with urinals for whatever reason (is the risk of seeing my coworkers genitals low? Yes. Does that mean I should have to put up with it if I’m uncomfortable? No; single stall.)

          If I was at an airport or a festival or whatever where the line to my preferred bathroom was too long and I just need to pee? Sure. It’s different enough when I have to work with these people the next day that I can’t say the same if I was at the office.

      3. Leenie*

        It might work with the right configuration though. In my office building, and others that I’ve been to that have small footprint bathrooms on every floor, you actually have a two sink/small mirror set up right when you walk in, and then a few stalls on the same wall as the mirror. So you don’t see the stalls from the mirror at all. And actually, where I am you couldn’t see the person in the accessible stall at the end unless you walked into the actual stall. The toilet isn’t visible from the stall door. So it really might work. Of course, I’m skeptical that this is really about a phobia and not some kind of creepy power play. So there’s all the chance in the world that this coworker would find reasons to reject this sensible solution, even if the bathroom is ideally configured for it.

    5. AnonyOne*

      I wonder if they could put a curtain across the door of one stall – a light curtain hung at a level that covers all relevant bits, but that, eg you would see over when standing up.
      That would depend on the number of available stalls and whether this would be enough to make Ferne comfortable.

  4. Butterfly Counter*

    I wonder if there is a magnet or sign she can put on the outside of the door to let people know the space is occupied for the next couple of minutes. It’s bad because this coworker would be monopolizing a multi-stall bathroom just for herself, but it would save other people from seeing her excrete waste. Or some combination of sign and locking the whole bathroom door (installing a lock if there isn’t one).

    Again, this would be highly inconvenient, but most people could probably wait the minute or two she needs to complete her “business” there, or they can go to the private bathroom down the hall.

    1. Turquoisecow*

      Yeah a simple latch lock on the inside so she doesn’t have to remember to take down the sign sounds useful.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        I don’t think this would work for someone with claustrophobia, though it may be worth asking her.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          She seems fine with the door being closed on the larger bathroom. I understand the lock might be the point where it’s over the line but it might be worth a conversation.

          1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

            But there’s a difference between a small single bathroom and a more spacious multi-stall bathroom. Like how it’s different to be closed in a tiny closet than in a bedroom.

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              Right but this comment was about locking the multi-stall bathroom so that she can have it to herself

              1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

                Yeah, my comment at the start of this thread makes no sense there. I either misunderstood or it was a nesting fail!

    2. Bunny Girl*

      I wonder if that would run into other possible accommodations though? I have IBS. Normally when I have to use the bathroom, I need to go like right then. If she was being weird in the multi-stalled bathroom and the other one was occupied, what then?

      1. hypoglycemic rage*

        yeah. i don’t have ibs, but i have some form of lactose intolerance. usually i can manage it by taking a lactaid, but occasionally….. so if i need to use the bathroom in this case, it’s pretty urgent and i would not be happy about a coworker monopolizing the whole bathroom (and tbh the single-stall bathroom might not be an option, depending on how far away it is).

      2. JSPA*

        Yeah, I’m team sign, not team latch, for that reason.

        Feyre is not expecting privacy. And as far as we know, Feyre is peeing or crapping, not “being weird.”

        My bowels are iffy enough that I’ve ended up crapping in a ditch on the side of a major interstate. if I had an episode? Pretty sure I’d be focused on getting to any toilet, not on other people’s toilet use in any stall but the one I’m laser-focused on reaching.

        1. Bunny Girl*

          Doing either of those things with the door open in a space that is not your own home is 100% being weird.

          1. UKDancer*

            Yeah the common expectation and etiquette (at least in the UK as far as I’m aware) is that adults using public conveniences or office conveniences shut and lock the door behind them. Slight exception if you have a difficult small child to wrangle and you’re somewhere like McDonalds but in a workplace I expect my colleagues to shut and lock the doors.

            1. GythaOgden*

              Can confirm, am British. This isn’t something that’s just Americans being prissy about. It’s a global thing. I’ve used squat toilets before in a non-western country where they were common and they were behind closed, locking doors.

              The only time I’ve seen someone actually poop in public it was overseas and it was quite obvious that this was something Not Done there. For various really good reasons few humans are comfortable taking a crap in public or seeing others doing it and I think there’s a need to recalibrate your expectations here.

              It’s totally 100% natural and not weird to need to do it. Just there are some things where it’s really just not done to do it in the open, even outside a modern western cultural bubble.

          1. Bunny Girl*

            Yeah sorry I’d probably fire her as well. I’d give her one stern talking to about not exposing herself to her coworkers and she needs to use the single use bathroom and if I still got reports she would be out the door.

  5. The answer is (probably) 42*

    Maybe she’s actually the reincarnation of former president Lyndon B. Johnson?

    1. Alf*

      Thanks for sending me down an internet rabbit hole – I’d never heard about this weird quirk of LBJ’s before!

    2. AngryOctopus*

      I read a book about the White House centered on staff members who work there (across administrations), and LBJ was *very* displeased with the water pressure in the White House. He would call the engineers/plumbers in while he showered so he could yell at them about the water pressure. They did all sorts of things to improve it for him. Then when Nixon moved in he had it all immediately undone.

      1. JustaTech*

        I read that book!
        LBJ went through like 3 white house plumbers until the last guy got the elderly plumbing to give him the “fire hose through a needle” spray that he wanted. (No one else would use it and it was described as very painful.)

    3. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

      With LBJ this was a (weird) dominance thing. He could force people to take orders while humiliating them via the manner of delivery.

      Talk about crapping all over the people below you…

    4. Office Manager slash Miracle Worker*

      Ha! I learned about that when reading Red White and Royal Blue! Yay for random historical facts in popular literature…

      1. The answer is (probably) 42*

        Ok I have admittedly not read the book but I loved that movie, always fun to find a RWRB fan in the wild!

    5. Artemesia*

      Which makes clear how much this is a power play. I would not put a lock on a multi stall bathroom or otherwise bend over to accommodate this nonsense. She uses the single accessible bathroom or you fire her.

  6. Hiring Mgr*

    The private bathroom seems like the perfect solution, unless as mentioned it’s too far. Or since this is second/third hand there may be a missing detail or two.

    1. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I thought so, too. Unless there’s a reason OP didn’t mention or doesn’t know about – there’s an unwarranted smell, the room is smaller than a bathroom stall, the space is haunted by Josephine The Plumber – Feyre’s refusal to use it is puzzling.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        I’m guessing that it’s small enough that it triggers the claustrophobia. Most single bathrooms are pretty small. Obviously, this doesn’t mean she should be allowed to keep exposing herself to her co-workers. Just, I get why it’s not a good solution.

        1. bamcheeks*

          Hm, I was thinking the opposite– most single stall bathrooms are wheelchair accessible, so they’re pretty big.

          1. Roland*

            Bigger than a stall, but smaller than a whole multi-stall bathroom. Also not saying it’s ok, just that it could be internally logical.

            1. Charlotte Lucas*

              Most are bigger than the bathroom in my apartment.

              And if anyone tried this in my home, they would never be invited back.

          2. What_the_What*

            Same. As a fellow claustrophobic, that’s my preference because they’re often quite spacious. I always look for either an accessible one or a family/caregiver one. (Often one and the same.) Otherwise, I just use the accessible stall and don’t linger. It usually takes a minute or so for my “oh god am I going to be stuck in here” to kick in, and by that time, I’m typically pulling up pants and heading out.

            1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

              Definitely shows how important it is for the company to as the right questions – respectfully – to understand what works and what doesn’t for this person specifically and try to find a solution.

          3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

            I’m imagining the sorta standard stalls that have gaps by the floor and don’t go up to the ceiling. So the size of the room is the broader bathroom with all the stalls and sinks and stuff. It just doesn’t feel so closed in.

        2. mopsy*

          This makes me wonder how big this person’s bathroom is at home… Mine’s smaller than most single restrooms in offices and I live in a nice place!

          1. Rosemary*

            Probably less of an issue for her to leave the door open at home. Especially if she lives alone.

            1. Gatomon*

              Confession – I don’t close the door at home usually. I’m not claustrophobic, but my just-departed cat was an annoying booger. Despite surely having figured out what I would do in there, he had to come in and verify. And if he came in with me and I shut the door until I was ready to leave, well that was unacceptable too. He wanted to be able to come in, be weird, and leave of his own free will. He’d yowl, claw at the handle, roll around and try to get his paws under the door, all sorts of theatrics lol. But if I walked up on him in the litter box, well, I was just the worst human ever.

              1. JustaTech*

                My late cat was the same way – if you shut the door to the toilet room she would yowl and stick her paws under the door. If you left the door open there was a slight chance she would attempt to jump up on your lap.

                But if I walked into the laundry room while she was using the litter box?

                *So* offended.

              2. GythaOgden*

                Nothing to add but sorry for your loss. I hope Mr Fuzzball is enjoying the bathrooms in a better place :).

        3. Sloanicota*

          That was my thought. A “onsie” with the door closed may still trigger the claustrophia in that it’s still a small enclosed space, versus the multi-stall bathroom with the door open, which may feel roomier / less like she’s trapped.

      2. Siege*

        Obviously I am completely uncharitable, but at the point at which Feyre (fantastic name, I loathe those books) refused to use the single stall bathroom without giving a reason why it doesn’t work, I fully assume the goal is to expose herself to her coworkers with a veneer of plausible deniability. This is not an otherwise-excellent employee trying to cope with a bad situation, and I personally have known several people who use lack of hygiene as a way to aggress against people.

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          Maybe she told the bosses why and they’re not sharing her business with everyone. I assume you wouldn’t want your bosses to explain the details of any health / accommodation information you shared with them.

          Obviously, this situation cannot continue. She cannot be allowed to expose herself to co-workers. But it’s unkind to assume she’s doing this deliberately based on the information in the letter.

          1. What_the_What*

            But, she’s already let them know she’s claustrophobic, yes? So saying, “that room is also too small for my claustrophobic self,” wouldn’t be disclosing any additional medical/personal/potential disability information.

    2. Tiggerann*

      The claustrophobia makes me think it is specifically the closed door that is her issue. A private bathroom has no way to hide from the fact the room is enclosed.

      1. What_the_What*

        But, the main door to the restroom IS closed. So, she’s still in a room with a closed door. I mean, if she did this in public, say … at the mall, she could get in trouble for indecent exposure.

        1. Michelle Smith*

          “But, the main door to the restroom IS closed.”

          This is an assumption you and a lot of other commenters are making, but there are absolutely bathrooms where the outside door is propped open or doesn’t exist at all. I don’t think we should make this assumption.

          1. What_the_What*

            I’m basing it on the LW’s stating that they didn’t realize she was in there right away, so presumably, they opened an outer door and THEN saw what was happening. If there were no door or one propped open, they’d be far more likely to know she’s in there before getting the show. I have never worked in an office where bathroom doors were propped open. I’d find that incredibly gross if it were, as …smells have a way of wafting.

            1. Troubadour*

              Think the airport-style bathrooms where you go down a corridor and/or around corners and there you are among the cubicles and washbasins without any other doors intervening. If it’s designed and ventilated well it’s fine. I’ve also been in a workplace where it wasn’t designed well and everyone working outside could definitely hear everything going on inside.

              1. What_the_What*

                Yesssssssss but I specifically said “….office space.” I have worked for over a dozen major corporate firms and every single one had doors on their restroom facilities. Not quite the same thing as a high traffic airport.

            1. What_the_What*

              ….but those aren’t office spaces. They are high traffic public facilities. Not the same. So, I repeat: I have never worked in an office where the restroom doors were propped open (or just not there at all.) I’ve only seen those types of (non)doors in places like airports, Costco/Sam’s/shopping malls, and rest areas, etc…

        2. kiki*

          It’s tough because a lot of phobias aren’t fully rational. While I feel for Feyre, unfortunately I don’t know if there’s a workaround here that’s reasonable for everyone else and that Feyre will feel comfortable with. I know other folks are saying a sign could be put on the main bathroom when Feyre is using it, but that may put a lot of stalls out of use for others while she’s in there. Maybe it’s not a big deal and Feyre is generally pretty fast in the bathroom, but it may not be feasible.

          1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

            I’d argue that the definition of “phobia” means that it isn’t rational.

            1. kiki*

              Very fair! What I was trying to express is that they can be hard to proactively accommodate by someone other than the person with the phobia. So some of the suggested workarounds that seem like solutions may actually be just as or more triggering to Feyre. Feyre’s workplace can try to help brainstorm, but Feyre needs to be making suggestions as well and not just shooting down management’s ideas.

              1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

                All good! I agree with you – since phobias don’t follow the rules of logic, it can be really hard for someone else to figure out a good solution. And yes, Feyre needs to come up with some options that work for her and that *do not* involve risk of her co-workers seeing things they shouldn’t.

    3. RagingADHD*

      In the 3rd paragraph of the letter, it states that Feyre was instructed to use the private bathroom and refuses to do so. So the question is not “what to do about Feyre’s claustrophobia,” but “what to do when an employee refuses to use the accommodation provided.”

  7. irritable vowel*

    I think that if this employer has found it so difficult to retain someone in the admin role that they’re apparently willing to accommodate not only this but the unkemptness and the “mildly satisfactory” work, the employer should be looking at themselves as the issue.

    1. not like a regular teacher*

      Yes, this. The job must have some major downside if no one except Feyre will do it.

    2. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      Yeah, literally everything in this letter is a red herring.

      The actual problem is that it’s a terrible company that won’t do whatever needs to be done to fix the role, to the point that they’re willing to put up with unkempt stinky flasher rather than, you know, deal with their problem. What do you want to bet that the manager over the admin is a missing stair? The passive non-response to the current person in the role is showing you the true problem, OP’s husband.

      Classic case of missing the forest for the trees.

    3. Art3mis*

      Yes, exactly. If you can’t keep someone in a role, you’re either not paying enough, have that role doing too much, or you’ve created a terrible environment. Possibly a combination of the above. This company has bigger problems.

    4. Portia*

      Yes, I wondered about that. Is the pay terrible? The hours impossible? The people incredibly difficult to work with? The only job I ever walked out on — or ever even thought of walking out on — in my long work life was a well paid admin job that turned out to involve an insanely micromanaging boss.

      There are many well-qualified admin professionals out there. If the job is decent, it should not be that hard to fill. Something is very wrong when someone who doesn’t do … what Feyre is doing … won’t take or remain in that job.

    5. What_the_What*

      Ah but presumably the employer/boss/owner/whoever has NOT walked in on Feyre en flagrante, so it’s easy to be “it’s just a thing, ignore it,” when it isn’t staring you in the face … er, so to speak.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Yes, I’m definitely getting the feeling that everyone whose solution is to not deal with it is male. Or has access to different bathrooms.

    6. SHEILA, the co-host*

      Yes, this. I know this isn’t the main issue here, but the fact that they’ve reached the point where they’re willing to put up with a variety of hygienic issues and work that is middling at best suggests that there’s something else going on with the role. My guess (though it’s been 20 years since I’ve been in an office admin role) would be a combination of low pay and expectations beyond what one person can reasonably manage.

    7. EvilQueenRegina*

      Yes, it feels like there’s a lot more to that story (although I accept that OP, as someone who doesn’t work there, might not know).

    8. LCH*

      Right?! What is so bad about this position that they can’t keep anyone and willing to settle for this?

      1. Tinkerbell*

        At least around here, a lot of places are still paying $9/hour for receptionists when every fast food place is paying $13-$15. Some people are willing to make it work, but there’s very little incentive to stick with a $9/hour desk job unless the advantages (getting to sit, good office culture, benefits, etc.) make it worthwhile – and I’m guessing this place doesn’t stack up well :-\

        1. Bunny Girl*

          That’s what I was thinking. Where I work administrative/reception jobs pay very, very low. I could work at a fast food place or dance on a box downtown and make more money. And a lot of those jobs come with customer service requirements that are exhausting.

    9. m0rjin*

      Hi, LW here! I totally thought this as well. There has to be more disfunction at a workplace that would shrug their shoulders and allow this. Should I hear anything else, I’ll definitely update but I’m pretty sure my coworker’s spouse is looking for employment elsewhere.

      1. Anecdata*

        given what we know of coworkers’ spouse’ place of employment, that seems like a smart choice!

    10. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Yes. Maybe they need to pay more to find someone willing to shut the loo door, or maybe they should divide the work up and farm it out to other employees. Whatever, any time there’s a problem keeping someone, there’s probably something wrong with the position.

    11. miss_chevious*

      Yeah, I read the letter and my first thought was “someone doesn’t pay enough.” Obviously there could be other problems with the hours/environment, etc., but for an employer to be desperate to keep an employee who creates this many issues, there has to be something else going on here.

      1. Dog momma*

        Could she be related to the owner and has never been able to keep a job? til this one? Not that she’s doing well. But this behavior needs TO STOP!!

    12. Generic Name*

      My last employer had a similar issue keeping a front admin. My take on the root cause was the pay for the position was insanely low as well as the company’s “unique culture” (translation “frat house”).

    13. PickleMum*

      THANK YOU. I can’t believe I had to scroll down this far down before someone said this.

      If a company is having this many issues hiring and keeping an Admin, red flags for the supervisor of that role/the management at large/whole company.

      Being an Admin Asst isn’t hard. Not the most interesting job most of the time, but almost anyone can perform it well and without, well, Issues.

      1. basically functional*

        This is untrue and insults and devalues admin work. It is skilled work and people capable of doing it well are in the minority IME.

        But I agree it shouldn’t be this difficult to hire or keep an admin!

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Things like….pay more? Even before I got to the bathroom part of the letter when she was talking about the trouble they were having, I was thinking “must not be paying enough”

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, this, although if they’re waffling on this I think we can guess it’s wildly underpaid, the admin gets jerked around by too many bosses, or some other form of systemic dysfunction.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        Yep. I wouldn’t leave my current job because of salary, I’m paid appropriately. But I sure would if I suddenly had 4 new ‘bosses’, or my job description drastically changed, or executive leadership changed drastically.

    3. DramaQ*

      I would imagine besides the usual culprits like lower pay, crappy hours/benefits/management that they aren’t keeping people because they are expected to deal with a gross co-worker who at any moment they could witness openly wiping her butt in the bathroom.

      I’d nope out of that workplace so freaking fast if I walked into that. Have all the phobias and issues you want but I am not going to subject myself to witnessing that or having to constantly stalk the bathroom/keep my eye closed/pray the other bathroom is open in case she is in there.

      1. Polly Hedron*

        No, the LW said that workplace had only had trouble keeping former admins, before Feyre was hired.

  8. Caramel & Cheddar*

    Aside from the issue at hand, the employer might want to take a deeper look at why they can’t retain anyone for this position if this is the sole candidate they can find and keep. Is the pay awful? Are the people this role assists awful? What gives?

    1. Not on board*

      I also said the same thing – also, was she unkempt and unhygenic in the interview? This seems like a bait and switch. I can’t see anyone hiring someone who shows up looking terrible and smelling bad, etc.

    2. Myrin*

      Exactly what I was wondering – this isn’t even a highly specialised or niche position but a very common one! What is going on with this?

  9. Observer*

    I think that the way they are handling this whole situation speaks to why they are having so much trouble keeping someone in that position.

    Basically, this is a management that doesn’t MANAGE. And that tends to place a REALLY high burden on an Administrative Assistant type position.

    In any case, the solution here is not to be sooo desperate to have a warm body that they keep on someone whose work “mildly” acceptable, but poses all of these other extreme problems. But rather figure out why the level of turnover and *do something about it.* Because if they don’t, they are going to wind up with high turnover in other positions as well.

    1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      But now they don’t have to do anything about that admin retention problem!!! :-)

  10. Annie*


    I don’t think her occupying a multi-stall bathroom by herself is the answer either. If she’s not able to go to the single-person bathroom, I’m not sure what else to do, but no, she can’t just continue to use the bathroom with the stall door open.

  11. SMH*

    I know everyone is going to jump to terminating her here, but have you considered that her work is “mildly satisfactory”?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I think there’s also the concern that an accommodation issue has entered the chat, so next steps should be taken gingerly. But yes this doesn’t seem better than having the role vacant again.

    2. AngryOctopus*

      That was my first thought! Not only is she flashing half the company (give or take) on a regular basis (exaggeration, but could be possible if half the employees ID as female and use that bathroom), but in addition she’s had to be spoken to about hygiene and dressing appropriately for the job. I’d be reconsidering this hire if she were the best admin I’d ever had, but then to add that she’s “mildly satisfactory”? Forget accommodations being mentioned, you can cite where she’s not meeting her job duties and wave goodbye.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      For me this usually translates as “has not set fire to anything or shown up drunk/high. Yet.”

  12. Presea*

    IANAL and I am not Canadian, but wouldn’t the repeated instances of people walking in on Feyre count as some sort of public indecency or inappropriate sexualization of the workplace or something else that’s sexual harassment adjacent? It seems to me like the company is trying to avoid legal liability for discrimination while creating a much bigger (potential) legal issue in the process.

    1. Galentine*

      This is what I was thinking. How is this any different than being exposed (no pun intended) to a flasher at work? It doesn’t matter what Feyre’s reason is; she’s being really gross.

      1. What_the_What*

        Zackly! AND making zero effort to keep it from happening! She could have printed out an “OCCUPIED” piece of paper and tape it on the door when walking in, etc… but she just seems unfazed.

        1. 34avemovieguy*

          But why should she be fazed? She must be aware that she has job security even after being talked to about it or being offered another bathroom. She can just go on doing her thing and the workplace will just get over it. It’s possible she’s unaware of the free pass she’s getting but she at least knows she doesn’t have to change her behavior at all.

      2. Michelle Smith*

        A flasher typically has the intent to harass those who they are flashing or has the intent to gain some sort of personal gratification from being seen exposed. That is very clearly different from someone doing it unintentionally in an attempt to avoid a panic attack. I’m not saying what she’s doing is okay, at all. But to suggest she is a sexual criminal over it is laughable.

        1. Galentine*

          It’s not different for the person being flashed, though. I don’t think it’s laughable to suggest that the workplace needs to take this extremely seriously because it’s incredibly inappropriate behavior, whatever the motivation.

            1. Hannah*

              Well, for one thing in a men’s room there would be a cultural precedent preparing people who enter it for the situation, whereas women entering a women’s restroom can reasonably assume they will not be seeing anyone doing their business in the open.

        2. Presea*

          I do want to clarify that I had no intents to frame her as a sexual predator and my comment was focusing solely on the effect her actions are having on her coworkers. I agree that it is extremely discompassionate to frame Feyre’s condict as predatory, at least based on the facts as presented in this letter.

        3. RagingADHD*

          The workplace standard of sexual harassment has nothing to do with the offender’s intent. It is about the impact on coworkers and a repeated pattern after being told to stop.

          You are talking about criminal law, which has a completely different standard and isn’t relevant to this situation.

    2. Michelle Smith*

      I’m a lawyer, albeit not a Canadian one. I did a 10 second Google of public indecency in Canada. It confirmed my assumption that she would likely have a defense based on intent. To violate the indecent acts statute, it requires “intent to insult or offend any person” and to violate the exposure statute, it requires the genital exposure to be “for a sexual purpose.” This person is arguably just trying to use the bathroom without triggering a panic attack and were I her defense lawyer, that’s what I’d try to argue in court.

      That being said, I have not looked at case law to determine if there is precedent or a presumption, rebuttable or otherwise, that says her specific conduct meets these requirements without further inquiry into her state of mind.

      1. Point de Croix*

        While I suppose that is a possible defense, one could also argue that her refusing to even try the alternate solution can be seen as intent.

        …I wonder if Googling this any further is going to get me put on some kind of list.

  13. Not on board*

    As a fellow Canadian, I am appalled. In Canada, we have decent disability laws and it sounds a lot like mental health issues overall – the claustrophobia, the unkemptness, hygiene issues – she would certainly qualify for disability. And her coworkers should not be expected to put up with this – does she go to restaurants and other people’s homes and do the same thing? I just don’t understand why they don’t let her go. If they can’t get anyone decent to fill the role then they need to re-evaluate the position, the pay, the benefits, etc in order to attract better candidates. How did she manage to get hired if she has bad hygiene? Was it a bait and switch?

    1. A Significant Tree*

      “How did she manage to get hired if she has bad hygiene?” I wondered that too – maybe she was able to keep it together for the sake of the interview, or this situation evolved and she’s no longer able to do so. I suppose it doesn’t ultimately matter – however she got there, this job is no longer a good fit for this person.

    2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      I’m not sure where in Canada you live, but in Ontario, where I am, the disability payments are not nearly enough to live on. The ODSP rate for a single person ($1,308 per month) is WAY below the poverty line ($2,302 per month) in Ontario. Maybe other provinces are more generous, but I doubt it’s all as easy as you suggest.

      I agree that this is a bad situation and something has to change. But there needs to be a good faith attempt to find a solution that works for everyone.

      1. Casual Observer*

        Yes, disability payments in Canada are terrible and not even close to enough for people to live off of. I know a number of people on disability in several provinces and most, if not all, either work side jobs, or live with family because they can’t afford rent, let alone other expenses. BC’s payments are similar to Ontario’s, but in the prairie provinces, I’ve heard it’s under $1000/month for individuals.

    3. Cat*

      Canadian disability financial support is far from decent. At best it is wildly inadequate and dehumanizing.

    4. Twix*

      I’m not Canadian, but I do have a whole lot of experience with mental illness and disability programs. In general there are a lot of really, really good reasons why people don’t want to live off disability benefits, including: huge hurdles and waiting times to qualifying, not wanting to live on a fixed income, significant limitations on your ability to have other income or assets, an income that’s often well below the poverty line, the amount you get is subject to change driven by politics, they’re often a partisan issue, ongoing eligibility isn’t always guaranteed and is often completely out of your control, judgment by others (or themselves!) for “living off handouts”, finding purpose through their work, and impact on job skills and future employability (not everyone who uses disability programs is permanently disabled).

      The fact that these programs exist is certainly better than not having them, but they are often woefully insufficient as a realistic solution for people who have disabilities. It’s one thing if you have no other choice or if you’re already subsisting below the poverty line, but it’s really not an attractive option if you potentially have other ones.

      1. Twix*

        To add to this anecdotally: I am an engineer with both physical and psychological disabilities. After many years I’m finally in a pretty good place as far as managing them, but I would have easily qualified for disability 5 years ago. I live in one of the most progressive parts of the US; average disability payments here are ~$1500/month. Figuring out with my employer how to work 30-40% of full time meant more than twice the income of relying on disability payments that are supposed to be a substitute for full-time employment. Doing that was a terrible solution both medically and professionally, but living off of disability just wasn’t a realistic option. (And another reason I left out of the list above is because quitting my job would mean losing my medical insurance, which is far superior to the state-funded insurance available to people on disability.)

        My boyfriend is (very, very legitimately) disabled and currently does receive disability payments. He lives with his dad because he has no way to live independently, and without needing to pay for rent or utilities his payments cover his basic living expenses. At some point he will probably live with me and it will be a similar situation. I’m lucky enough to have an income I can support both of us on fairly easily, so his income will be helpful rather than necessary, but he will be almost completely financially dependent on me. (Which, incidentally, brings up another thing I left off the list above – inability to get away from toxic or abusive situations due to lack of resources.) But the point is that disability payments are often great supplemental income to defer the cost of case for the people already supporting you, not an income you can exist on independently.

    5. 2e*

      I’m guessing that you don’t have first-hand experience with these “decent” disability laws.

      Take a look at the HRC/HRT rulings in your province. You’ll see that complaints take *years* to make their way through the system, and that it’s extremely rare for a complainant to be awarded damages in excess of $10,000.

      If she contacts the HRC/HRT before she’s fired, it’s hypothetically possible that they’d be able to intervene, protect her from retaliation, and require the company to meet their duty to accommodate. In my province? Good luck with that. They’ll answer your email in three or four weeks, by which time it’s too late. (And yeah, that’s happened to me twice in the last ten years. It nearly broke me, twice.)

      The truth is that in many provinces, the company could probably fire Feyre with absolutely no repercussions.

  14. Cat lady*

    What if the solution is to pay the (next) person in the role more and put some work into eliminating or easing the problems with the job that spurred others to leave? It seems like finding a way to retain a better employee is a better solution than forcing all the women working there to be flashed in the bathroom daily

    1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      Oh, your comment just made me realize the people in power must not be subject to the flashing. Therefore, they must be men and hey, dismissing women and their legitimate problems is like step 1 to start your day.

  15. Le Vauteur*

    Yeah, that’s how I know my workplace is dysfunctional. I wouldn’t bat an eyelid if someone did that. Or ran down the corridor nude.

  16. JelloStapler*

    1. Why are people leaving this position so often that they are this desperate – does mgt need to fix something else to retain normal people? Pay them better?
    2. This is not the only position they will have trouble retaining if Feyre is allowed to proceed like this.

  17. bamcheeks*

    My first thought is that Feyre is probably not suited to an office environment, and the company should consider whether she can work remote. If that’s not possible, then it really is time to ask whether her medical restrictions mean she can’t do the job.

    My second thought is that I’m kind of sceptical about “they have found it difficult to retain anyone in the administrative assistant position”. Administrative skills are not a hard-to-find skillset, especially at the assistant level! IME, when companies struggle to find and keep people in an administrative role, it’s because they are undervaluing it and/or it’s a toxic atmosphere. It’s not, “we can’t get anyone to do this job”, it’s “we can’t get anyone to do this job [because we barely pay over minimum wage, offer zero flexibility, and/or the manager is full of bees]”.

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      It’s an admin position, those usually can’t be remote. But honestly with the hygiene issues right there, it is time to seriously consider if this person really should be in a admin role.

      This is why talk to a lawyer is the best solution.

  18. NeedsMoreCookies*

    The unkempt-ness and hygiene issues probably tie back to the claustrophobia. After all, it’s hard to shower without enclosing the space, and going shopping for nicer clothes must be hard if you’re unwilling to close yourself into a changeroom or bathroom stall. A claustrophobia problem that severe needs serious, professional therapy! Because “oh well, guess my coworkers will just have to see me naked and wiping sometimes” is NOT a reasonable accommodation.

    1. JustaTech*

      I’m going to push back on the clothing in 2 ways – first, online shopping. You can try on the clothes in your home (yes send back what doesn’t fit has costs, but they’re not insurmountable). Clothing catalogs have existed for more than a century.

      Second, even if buying clothes was hard, it doesn’t mean that someone with claustrophobia would have to be “unkempt”. You can be tidy and neat in clothes you purchased at Target or WalMart or KMart and never tried on.

      Honestly, claustrophobia or no, a lot of this feels like Freye does not care and wants to be super clear about that. Which comes back around to, how bad is this job that this person is the only one they can get?

    2. Chirpy*

      One can still wash without getting into an enclosed shower stall. Sponge baths have been a thing for centuries, and hair can be washed in a sink/bucket. And there are workarounds for buying clothes without trying them on in a store (online, take measurements, try them on at home and return if they don’t fit, etc.) So yes, it could be related to the claustrophobia, but if so, this person really needs help to find these solutions.

  19. Serious Silly Putty*

    I don’t know how classy this bathroom needs to look, but would a *curtain* suffice? Maybe if a curtain blocks off the last stall it would give a little more space and feel less confining but also provide some privacy.

    1. NotSoRecentlyRetired*

      This was my thought, too.
      See if there’s a way to put a curtain rod across to block off the last stall and put up a shower curtain (completely visually blocking the area). Work with the employee to determine the limits to her claustrophobia to determine if this needs to block off one or two of the end stalls.

    2. AnonORama*

      There are definitely some issues with this organization that curtained stalls wouldn’t solve, and I have no idea if that would work for Feyre, but it’s certainly been done. Years ago, I worked for a nonprofit housed inside a rehab hospital that employed many people with disabilities, and the restrooms had curtains on the stalls for accessibility. (There were metal partitions between the stalls, with a curtain on the front of each one, and an accessible main door.) It felt a little less private, but you couldn’t see anything, and it did seem much less confining. Apparently it wasn’t that great for accessibility because the curtains were a pain to move out of the way and back into position, but that may not be an issue here.

    3. Snow Globe*

      I was thinking about having her use the last stall. At least that way people would be less likely to walk past. And maybe a curtain, not across the stall but from the side of the stall to the opposite wall, so she can see out.

      1. AnonORama*

        Using the end stall was also a thing in my workplace where there were a lot of folks with disabilities, including wheelchair users. I was told as a new employee that if the curtain on the back stall (they were all accessible size) was open, the best thing was to check for feet and/or wheels anyway. I wound up doing it for all the doors just in case, and never had an embarrassing incident there.

  20. Manders*

    We had severe work restrictions for people who were still at the workplace during Covid. My favorite one, which I wish we still had, was that we put an “occupied/vacant” slider on the outside of the multi-stall bathroom. That way only one person could use it at a time. Maybe something like that would work for her?

    1. What_the_What*

      That’s a great idea! I was thinking a lock, even just a simple hook and eye, but if that aggravatest the claustrophobia, this could work well. Assuming that Feyre is with it enough to remember to slide it when in use!

      1. Manders*

        Yeah. We had the opposite issue – it would remained “occupied” because people would forget when they left. Man, I miss that slider though. It was just nice to have a minute to yourself in the bathroom.

  21. HannahAP*

    This happened at my workplace too!! They’re no longer working there, but on multiple occasions someone was Very Obviously using the bathroom in the handicap stall with the door open, so nothing was immediately visible, but it was still SO uncomfortable to walk in on.

  22. CanuckDaughter*

    I have never been in a men’s washroom, but how is this different than walking in to men using urinals?

    1. kitto*

      it’s a societal norm thing – you expect to see men at the urinals. it’s just like how it’s normal to see people in swimsuits at the beach but if someone was unexpectedly in a speedo or bikini in the street it would be odd and probably uncomfortable

    2. I should really pick a name*

      The men still have their pants on.
      You don’t ankle your pants to use a urinal.

      1. Reality.Bites*

        I’ve seen it happen. Not on anything like a regular basis, but it’s something I’ve seen more than once – although mainly back in elementary school.

    3. Audrey Puffins*

      Men using urinals tend to be facing away from the main space and require minimal rearranging of clothing. It’s a very quick and unfussy process, with very little exposure of body parts to others. The female form and wardrobe – especially if Feyre is wearing sweatpants rather than, say, a full flowy skirt – in an open cubicle require much more faff and a great deal more potential for displaying intimate body parts to passersby.

      1. Double A*

        I really disagree with this. I actually think it would be more difficult for a woman sitting to pee to truly expose herself to coworkers than someone using a urinal. I mean, I’ve been in the presence of many women peeing in my life and I’ve never seen… anything private. Whereas men getting a peek at each other is, like, a known thing that can happen at urinals, as far as I know there’s a whole etiquette around this.

        It’s definitely a social norm that woman pee privately, but I think this has way more to do with our need to squat vs. stand so we just have the one fixture, which is private because all people expect to poop privately. I really don’t think women peeing is more likely to expose anything; if anything, it’s less likely.

        1. Double A*

          This all being said, breaking a social taboo makes people very uncomfortable, even if there isn’t a logical reason for that taboo or that it’s a double standard.

        2. Pistachio*

          but a man seeing another man at the urinal would be standing next to them, would know what was happening and so could make the choice as to whether to wait. Anyone walking into the room would only see the man’s back, fully clothed. This is different to a woman sitting on a toilet facing the room, pants round ankles. You probably wouldn’t see her genitals, but you would enter the room to see a lot of skin and underwear that should be covered in an office environment.
          I am thinking too much about this!

        3. Audrey Puffins*

          I mean, sure, while I’m sitting and peeing, no one would really see anything, but when I start spreading my legs so that I can efficiently wipe, then getting to my feet so I can pull my underwear up and sort out the rest of my clothing, it gets a bit less ladylike!

        4. Eulerian*

          It sounds like you’re picturing delicate peeing – but there’s more than one potential position in which to walk in on someone.

          Try picturing vigorous, awkward wiping.

          1. myfanwy*

            Yeah – and one week in four I’ll be changing tampons, which I can do sitting down but definitely can’t do with my knees daintily together.

    4. Double A*

      To be honest… I don’t think it’s that different, it’s just custom that woman pee privately and for men it’s acceptable not to. So it’s a violation of a social norm, but that’s still kind of shocking.

      And for those who say women are more exposed, I don’t think that’s the case. If anything, I think you’re less likely to see anything truly private when someone is sitting on a toilet vs. using a urinal, especially if it’s a urinal where you stand next to people.

      (Caveat to all of this: I’m assuming we’re talking about pee. If it’s anything else, then everyone of all genders is expected to do that privately. At least in a work environment in the US; in various times and cultures, people don’t necessarily have the option for privacy and thus it’s just kind of normal to do our business openly).

      1. Long time lurker*

        Yeah, I went to a grade school that didn’t have stall doors in the bathrooms. Later on, I lived in a fraternity house that didn’t have stall doors either. While I understand people’s concerns and acknowledge that this is unusual behavior, I don’t know how much this would register for me.

        Definitely interesting to see the differences in opinions around this.

      2. I should really pick a name*

        You don’t see anything at a urinal unless you deliberately look.
        (Possibly exception being troughs)

    5. StressedButOkay*

      There’s far more exposure of being seated on a toilet than using a urinal. It’s why men’s restrooms also have stalls, if not as many of them at times, because that shows a whole lot more. (And some clothing – looking at you jumpsuits – mean basically being naked when going the bathroom.)

      A man going into a bathroom and seeing a coworker at a urinal will most likely not actually see anything. Freya’s coworkers are seeing far, far more.

    6. River*

      I had the same question. Having never been in a men’s restroom except for cleaning at the end of the night as part of my job in high school… there’s no stalls. Event the toilet in the men’s room only had a partial stall, no door. I want the privacy.

      I’m wondering how I’d respond if I saw a partially open door and tried to enter only to find someone in the stall. I’d probably grab the door from the outside and say… ohhh I think your door came unlatched, here let me hold that for you because I would assume it’s an accident and feel embarrassed for the person. If it kept happening, I’d probably continue doing it to protect others from the show.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        Event the toilet in the men’s room only had a partial stall, no door

        That’s just plain weird and atypical to the point that I’ve never heard of anything like that.

    7. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Honestly, I’ve never understood why more men don’t push back against the existence of urinals. The main reason I’ve heard is that it’s faster, but I feel like they should be entitled to way more privacy when doing their business.

      1. Reality.Bites*

        Men who want privacy or are “pee shy” use stalls. They don’t push back on the existence of urinals because their existence doesn’t require anyone to use them.

        What has changed in the past couple of decades is there are now usually barriers between urinals.

      2. Long Time Lurker*

        It’s just different perspectives. My younger brother HATES using urinals for the exact reason that you mention. I have normalized peeing in front of other people and don’t worry about it.

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          My point is more that you shouldn’t have had to normalize peeing in front of people in the first place and it’s weird that as a culture we decided it’s fine.

          1. Twix*

            Counterpoint: Peeing is a normal bodily function and it’s weird that as a culture we have so many hangups about it. Given that the reason men are generally okay with it is because it’s not arbitrarily stigmatized, I’m not sure how we’d be better off by arbitrarily stigmatizing it. Some men do want more privacy than a urinal affords, which is perfectly fine, and in any normal public bathroom they have that option.

          2. Rebecca*

            As a culture, Westerners used to poop in front of each other and have sex in group sleeping arrangements. Privacy is very modern.

        2. UKDancer*

          Urinals are interesting and some men prefer them. A couple of jobs back the company I worked for then moved to a building which didn’t have urinals from one with them and there was widespread complaint from the men in the company about it. A number of them seemed to have a strong preference for that over having more cubicles which I thought was curious.

      3. I should really pick a name*

        Why push back?
        They’re there for those who are fine with them.
        Stalls are available for those who aren’t.

      4. anywhere but here*

        My guess is that it is also related to the ability to fit accommodate more men within the same amount of space. The same square footage, if urinals are present, allows for many more men to go than if there were only stalls. That being said, I use that info to argue that female restrooms should have more square footage than those for males, since accommodating women equitably would entail giving women genuinely equal access (bathrooms designed to accommodate X persons peeing at the same time for both, rather than X men and X-2 women). That’s not even considering the tendency for women to require more time per visit to accomplish the same results or have other bathroom needs (menstruation, more frequent urination due to pregnancy, etc.)

        1. Twix*

          It very much is. Urinals have a much higher throughput than stalls when a lot of people are trying to use a bathroom at once. There’s a reason that the line for the womens’ bathroom being ridiculously long is a trope. And I agree with your latter point in principle, although it is worth pointing out that mens’ and womens’ bathrooms that could accommodate the same number of people peeing would create the inverse situation for people who aren’t peeing. (Which has significant implications in both directions for what would be fair.) The fact that urinals are not full toilets, but effectively allow for a separate “peeing” line under high demand, makes the traffic flow models fundamentally different. An equitable solution wouldn’t necessarily be the ability to accommodate an equal number of people using them a certain way. It’s actually kind of a fascinating optimization problem.

      5. Hrodvitnir*

        Ha. If it was remotely socially acceptable, I would use urinals with a stand to pee device (as a vulva haver). I’m quite used to the you-just-don’t-look attitude of communal nudity.

        I in fact lead the charge for communal nudity (for those who were comfortable) when working in a PC3+ containment laboratory where we had to strip to go in. It took 1/10 of the time.

    8. Sharpie*

      The LW very clearly states Feyre is ‘she’. You don’t expect anyone in the ladies to be using a stall with the door wide open.

    9. Maisonneuve*

      It’s maybe not that different for peeing, but what about the other or changing menstrual products. I don’t need to see that. And for what it’s worth, I don’t know why men don’t ask for more privacy. I get skeeved watching movies and tv shows with men at urinals. Maybe that do chat at urinals but I don’t need that much reality in my tv.

      1. DramaQ*

        It’s maybe not that different for peeing, but what about the other or changing menstrual products.

        Exactly. I got the hang of being able to do most menstrual stuff sitting down but at some point I am going to have to stand up to wipe. Depending on Freye’s “situation” that day she could be standing for awhile.

        I have a husband and say peeing standing up is quite different from sitting down. I can’t really see anything when he stands up because he remains clothed.

        Other business he’s got his pants and underwear down. A lot less left to the imagination.

        Just because I’ve seen a man peeing in public at a urinal it doesn’t mean I want to extend that to watching a man with his pants down wiping his butt!

        Not only am I getting a full frontal visual in that regard. . . he’s wiping his butt!

        I don’t want to share that level of intimacy with a coworker! Wiping my kids’ butts as toddlers was one thing. Having to hurry up an invert my eyes because I see Freye on full display when I get to the sink is quite another. She’s old enough to shut the dang door when using the bathroom.

        Freye has been given a option that takes into consideration her coworkers. They should not be chided and told they need to suck it up and be uncomfortable because “Well men pee at urinals so what’s your problem?!”

    10. Rebecca*

      It’s really not. A woman (or anyone, really) sitting to pee isn’t exposing very much. The afterward exposes a little more, but not much. It’s disconcerting, for sure, bc we have an expectation that peeing is a private activity for women. But that’s it. It’s not flashing.

  23. That's gross.*

    As someone with trauma around this type of thing, I couldn’t work somewhere that allowed coworkers to expose themselves to others like this. If Feyre is unable to use the bathroom in a way that other people can be around safely, then she isn’t suited to the role. It feels like the (unintentional I hope) creepiness of her behaviour isn’t being taken as seriously because Feyre is a woman and/or the bathrooms are (from what I can tell) single-gender spaces.

    1. Typing All The Time*

      Same. It is also a liability risk. Think of a job applicant or client or official walking into the bathroom and encountering Feyre in her state.

  24. Mim*

    What is the most baffling to me here is that this person who is demonstrably not at all shy about things that take a lot of guts (publicly talking about an invisible disability, and peeing with the door open) has apparently not given a reason for not wanting to use the bathroom that exists for exactly this type of situation – to accommodate people whose needs are not met by the stalls in the other bathroom.

    I feel like we are either missing some information (since it is a thirdhand story), or the person in question just DGAF about what she is doing. If there were some other reason why she couldn’t use the accessible bathroom, don’t we think that the person who disclosed her claustrophobia and was fine with peeing in front of other people would be likely to just say why?

    1. lilsheba*

      One can only HOPE she’s just peeing. I’m sure period stuff takes place in there assuming she’s of that age in life. And of course OTHER things. Shudder.

  25. Dasein9 (he/him)*

    LW’s Coworker’s Spouse’s company is bananapants. I can see why they’re having trouble retaining employees.

    The company needs to find a way to make that job attractive to someone who is more than minimally competent and stop thinking in terms of personnel just having to put up with this nonsense. Not doing so will mean losing all their truly competent employees.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Wondering how many competent employees they even have tbh – certainly none of them are working in HR

  26. theletter*

    Is the role difficult to fill because the essential duties are mostly obsolete? You might be able to fill it better by shifting it to something a little more IT oriented, while raising the starting salary.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      This is highly dependent on the business and what they do. I’m basically a glorified admin and my duties are not at all IT-overlapping. I basically use computers as typewriters with search engine access and my skills are more than sufficient for the work I do.

  27. Pupper*

    …What on earth is going on there that “mildly satisfactory” work is enough to risk a lawsuit over – because one day the wrong person is going to walk in on this person and file an indecent exposure complaint (or whatever the Canadian equivalent is) against them and possibly the employer for knowing about it but allowing it to continue.

    Seriously LW, your spouse needs to take a good hard look at this employer because there is no way this is the only dysfunction happening here.

  28. Justin*

    I really expected them to have said, we don’t have a private bathroom. But they do!

    So, double you tee eff

  29. Not a psychologist*

    I wonder if installing some large mirror plate in the stall would give it a more spacious feel and alleviate the discomfort.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      So that now everyone needs to view THEMSELVES peeing? I’d avoid that stall completely.

      1. Cassielfsw*

        If it works for Feyre, then, win-win? She has a stall that’s comfortable for her to use with the door closed, and it’s always available to her because nobody else wants to use it.

      2. mreasy*

        lol we have one bathroom with a full length mirror adjacent the toilet, by necessity (in order to have a mirror). You get used to it!

  30. Essentially Cheesy*

    I might leave the restroom stall door open on the rare occasion that it’s Friday afternoon and I’m alone in the office. But otherwise .. never! This is crazy!

  31. Observer*

    LW, you are obviously not in a position to do anything about this company. But, I think that the pattern of responses is telling, and should perhaps cause your coworker and their wife to consider that she should be looking for a new job.

    Perhaps you could show them this post and responses. Because it seems to me that pretty much everyone here agrees that the company management is the *real* problem here.

  32. Danielle*

    “Exposed to this”

    I see what you did there.

    Why not add an internal lock on the bathroom door so that when she’s in there, she’s the only one able to use it. It seems like she’s fine with that door being closed?

    1. Office Plant Queen*

      Phobias aren’t really logical, so she might be fine with having that door closed but not with it being locked. The locking issue would be my guess as to why she doesn’t use the single-occupancy option that was offered to her

    2. DramaQ*

      What about other coworkers who may have medical issues and need to urgently use the bathroom? Or it is that time of the month and the coworker was caught off guard?

      How far away is the private bathroom? And how many people are going to be expected to use it because now Freye has free reign over the multi-stall bathroom?

      Depending on how many women work in that office along with Freye it is unreasonable to expect them to all have to rely on the single person bathroom while Freye gets to go whenever she wants and have an entire restroom to herself.

      Or are they going to make the men share their restroom once it’s shown that the single use bathroom can’t accommodate everyone who has to wait for Freye to be done?

      Tell whoever is about to pee their pants because Freye is having a bad day and the private bathroom is occupied to go to the nearest gas station?

      I can’t imagine that is going to make retaining employees any easier.

      Freye was given the option to use the single use bathroom. She refuses. That should be the end of it she should be GONE. IDK about Canada but if they can document they have an available private bathroom and that she openly refused it they can terminate her. As was said her right to pee with the door open does not override the rights of others to use the restroom and not risk being exposed to their coworkers private parts.

  33. Juicebox Hero*

    I know OP can’t do anything about it, but I hope someone will, for the sake Feyre’s coworkers. We suffered for half a year with a secretary who didn’t bathe and wore the same dirty clothes all the time. Her favorite pants had a hole in the butt and she didn’t wear underwear. She smelled like a locker room with dirty hair. She stuck around way too long because the office manager used to keep convincing the big boss to give her more and more chances to fly right, which she didn’t. She also did things like vaping in the office to see how much she could get away with. Her work wasn’t even mediocre when she bothered to do any.

    The rest of us were miserable and didn’t understand why they didn’t do something about her. The real question is why can’t they keep anyone in that position, not how to let Feyre get away with whatever bad behavior she wants. It’s a management problem.

  34. CommanderBanana*

    This (leaving bathroom doors open on purpose so people would walk in and see you) was a plot point in Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Choke.

    I’m sure I’ll get jumped all over by the commentariat for being judgy, but just….ew.*

    *My personal opinion. If you personally don’t have a problem with chicken caked under your nails, open, bleeding, and/or oozing wounds in the workplace or walking into a bathroom and seeing your coworker using the toilet, please don’t consider yourself judged.

    1. NeutralJanet*

      Are you responding to the right post? Literally no one is disagreeing that this is inappropriate and gross, and there also aren’t any chickens or open wounds involved.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        The reference is from a long-running theme in this commentariat that someone can be doing the grossest, most inappropriate thing, and someone will pop up in the comment section to be like HOW DARE YOU JUDGE THIS PERSON, they may have REASONS for doing this! Two earlier columns involved disgusting things people do at work to food (the coworker was ripping apart cooked chickens on a buffet line with her bare hands) and having open bleeding wounds in the workplace.

        Sort of like the 5/5 microwaves thing you may see pop up on other threads.

        Hopefully this clears it up for you.

  35. Jackie Daytona, Regular Human Bartender*

    What the what.

    Management needs to address this in a way that is not “Feyre can keep doing what she’s doing.” Because if I’m working there, I’m looking for a job. Ain’t no way I am putting up with regular surprise exposure in the bathroom. NOPE.

  36. Donkey Hotey*

    I agree that it’s a strange situation and I also kinda shrug. In Navy boot camp, there were no doors on any of the bathroom stalls (and even the men’s room had a dozen stalls.) It was 30+ years ago and I vividly remember someone walking up while I was sitting down and asking me a question. I asked, “Is someone bleeding or on fire?” He said, “No.” And I yelled, “Then it can #$&!ing wait!”

    But that was an extreme situation, not corporate life.

    1. Sharpie*

      In basic training in the British Army, all the stalls had doors. The showers were communal but you could at least do your business in private.

    2. Stuff*

      When I was in Navy basic training in 2011, we had curtains, and my unit used them. Other units didn’t, and when we used bathrooms in areas where multiple units were using them, sometimes someone would come rip the curtain open and yell that you aren’t supposed to have that closed, not realizing that you aren’t part of their unit.

      No, I don’t know why some units allowed the use of curtains and some didn’t, or why my unit allowed them.

    3. Katie*

      The CEO of my last company was a Navy veteran and he told the “no doors on bathroom stalls” anecdote any time we complained about any aspect of office life. (As in, consider yourself lucky the bathroom stalls have doors!)

  37. A CAD Monkey*

    Speaking as someone who is claustrophobic, I get it. Being in an approximately 3’x5′ (1m x 1.5m) space can trigger the phobia. unless the stalls are floor-to-ceiling enclosed, most stalls are open enough to not cause a reaction. A separate accessible toilet room should be large enough to not cause a reaction at 6’6″x7’6″ (approx. 2m x 2.3m) using ADA requirements but i know the Canadian rules are similar.

    Management, in this case, is failing the other employees by not enforcing that she is abiding by the accommodations they’ve provided. They’re falling into the “we need someone in this position, so we’ll overlook this bad behavior because it is easier on us” trap.

      1. Tally miss*

        I wonder if Canadian stalls are actually private. Maybe just adding a few American style stalls could help – while a single stall could feel tight, a standard American accessible stall is really open.

  38. arcya*

    Weirdly, we also have this same issue! There’s someone at my work who uses the ladies room with the stall door open. Idk why. The thing is, I don’t think anyone has addressed it with admin or HR because it’s so out there and no one knows what to say. Also she seems to use the bathroom at off times so seeing her is not a constant thing.

  39. lilsheba*

    All I have to say is WHAT THE HELL? I have never heard of anyone doing that before, and I can’t even imagine what it would be like at home with this woman. NO NO NO NO NO.

    1. AngryOctopus*

      I mean, I leave the bathroom door open at home. But it’s just me and the two cats (and frankly they’re MUCH more concerned when the door is closed because it is an AFFRONT TO NATURE I MUST SCRATCH). And when I have company, I am perfectly capable of closing the door, because I know how to Human.

      1. Other Alice*

        I once accidentally forgot that my partner was staying over, and I yelled at him mid-pee to stay in the living room and do not go into the corridor for any reason. That was a one-off brain fart and I have absolutely never ever forgotten to close the door at someone else’s place or in a public restroom.

      2. CommanderBanana*

        I have to do that too (but my bathroom door opens into my bedroom) because otherwise Queen Baby will whine, scratch, and shriek because she’s convinced I’m eating snacks without her.*

        *I did once hide in the shower to eat chocolate because she can’t have any and she did catch me, so it’s not totally unwarranted.

        1. AnonORama*

          My mom actually put a note on the door of her downstairs powder room saying “make sure to close the door all the way unless you want a dog visit,” because the pupper always wanted to know exactly where everyone was and would head-butt the door if it wasn’t latched. And then, having ascertained your location, he’d walk away, leaving the door — juuuuuuust a little too far away to close from the toilet — hanging open.

      3. Pyjamas*

        Since the litter boxes are in the bathroom and until recently the oldest cat was 18, we kept the bathroom door at least cracked open unless guests were present. And occasionally one or other of the cats takes a companionable pee with me. But in a public space‽ Hard pass

      4. UKDancer*

        I mean it’s different if you live on your own or have your own bathroom that isn’t shared with anyone else (so when I’m travelling on business and in a hotel room by myself I don’t always shut the door to the bathroom especially if I’m in a hurry).

        I recognise if you have cats it may be different.

        But otherwise with people in the house, it’s in my experience normal to shut and ideally lock the door.

  40. CityMouse*

    There is no definition of reasonable accommodation that means your coworkers have to watch you pee. Management needs to be firm here. She’s been given options, she uses them or she goes.

  41. MistOrMister*

    This is absolutely bonkers. I do not agree with the suggestions to just have hee pot a sign on the main door so she can pee in the multi-stall bathroom by herself. That is not a reasonable accomodation, especially if they are a large office. If she is in there and someone else is in the single occupancy toilet, multiple people could be waiting for goodness knows how long. What if she gets food poisoning and is in the bathroom for ages? What if she’s playing on her phone for half an hour? Is everyone else to be denied access that whole time?

    I have to wonder if something else is going on here. I am claustrophobic and generally do not have an issue with closing a stall door but beyond that, I relish having access to a single toilet bathroom as they are so much roomier so I find it a bit hard to believe that this lady can’t use the single toilet restroom. Whatever the case, at some point this company is going to find themelves hit with a sexual harrassment lawsuit due to this woman exposing herself.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      Yeah, the first thing I thought when I read this was that this is either a power thing or a sex thing, and yeah, if my coworker refused to stop flashing herself to everyone attempting to use the bathroom, I’d expect a harassment suit eventually.

  42. Office Plant Queen*

    Surely they could put in a room divider/privacy screen? Something that blocks her from view, but doesn’t block the physical path out of the stall/room. They cost more than you’d expect, but they aren’t that expensive, especially compared with other equipment a company might buy for an accommodation like an ergonomic chair.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      That’s what the stall door is for! Most bathrooms I’ve seen don’t have enough room in the walkway between the stall opening and the facing wall to accommodate a separate screen.

  43. Dawn*

    For the record, the rules in Canada vary by province but generally speaking, “the company must enter an interactive process with your doctor” is the same as in America.

  44. Common Taters on the Ax*

    I wonder if there’s a way to outfit one stall with something that would block the view from everyone else while not making her feel closed in, such as a device to keep the door partially open, or a curtain instead of or in addition to a stall door, or maybe even a half door.

  45. Statler von Waldorf*

    As a Canadian HR person with over 20 years experience, I back pretty much everything Alison says. There are no major differences between US and Canadian law in this area. Employer’s are required to accommodate up to the point of undue hardship.

    The issue is that in Canada, undue hardship is very loosely defined. It’s a fact specific determination, and the only advice I would give is to second Alison’s recommendation that you would need absolutely need a lawyer to navigate this.

    Given that subsection 174(1) of the Canadian Criminal Code prohibits being nude and exposed to public view while on private property, I suspect this would not be an accommodation you would have to make, but if a lawyer told me otherwise I honestly wouldn’t be that surprised.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      IANAL, but I think that exposed to public view mean visible to people outside the property.

  46. HonorBox*

    This is a perfect place to be reminded that our rights end when they infringe upon the rights of others.

    I’m curious about the single stall restroom down the hall and why that’s not acceptable. If it is for any reason other than “I don’t want to use it” there should be ways to make that work. Does it take her a bit longer back and forth? OK. No worries. You allow for that.

  47. DrSalty*

    Wow this is wild. If I were her coworker, I’d be using the private bathroom from now on everytime.

  48. Tam*

    A thought: put a rod and light curtain in a stall. She can pull the curtain when she’s using it. The door is still open, but she is hidden from others’ view.

  49. rebelwithmouseyhair*

    Can they not install a lock on the main door leading to all the toilets, so she can lock that?

    I have mild claustrophobia so I can sympathise but still…

    Definitely they need to find out why their solutions were not acceptable!

  50. Cabbagepants*

    “they have found it difficult to retain anyone in the administrative assistant position.”

    I think this is the root cause. I know some businesses can be downright ridiculous about things like salary, but if they need find a way to attract better candidates.

    (I wouldn’t be saying this if the admin were otherwise excellent.)

    1. L*

      EXACTLY! Has the management at this company actually looked at *why* the best employee they can find is someone who won’t close the stall door? Something is yeah, out of whack with the employee but is even more out of whack with this company.

  51. Unhelpful Suggestions Welcome!*

    Not useful outside of the realm of the “that’ll show ’em” dumb ideas department…

    I wonder if there could be a trend develop whereby people who don’t mind doing so just begin staring at her on the toilet. Seems to be her call as to whether that just happens forever or she elects to use the private bathroom or close the stall door.

  52. Pdf*

    As a wheelchair user, I sometimes use nonaccessible bathrooms by making sure all stalls are unoccupied*, locking the door to the entire room (if there is one, I have a friend guard the door if there isn’t) and then leaving the stall door open. Depending on your setup, this – if all stalls are unoccupied, only lock the main door – may work for your coworker.

  53. Audogs*

    I don’t know if its been mentioned here yet, but this is an example of the need for a temp employee.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      Maybe but….as others have pointed out being unable to keep people in a position that’s not generally hard to fill indicates there’s a problem with the job. And usually that means the people they work for or the pay.

      If it’s either a temp wont help, but especially if its the pay then they wont be able to get a temp either as temp positions pay less than the salary number due to temp agency overhead.

  54. Freelance Bass*


    This company is going to have trouble retaining ALL their employees pretty soon.

  55. Jules the 3rd*

    Put a large, realistic picture on the back of the private restroom’s door. Make it look like a window to the outside, or like the hallway.

  56. Karma is My Boyfriend and so is Travis Kelce*

    Y’all keep writing in stories that also happened to me! My very first job out of college, we had a restroom with 4 stalls and one accessible stall, of which the door swung out. There was a hippie, free love type in a neighboring office whom I walked in on MANY times using the accessible stall with the door open! “Oh I didn’t think anyone would come in here!” I was so young and new, I had no idea that this was something that could be reported, and therefore, prevented.

    1. Audrey Puffins*

      I believe LWs tend to pick their own pseudonyms, Alison will only amend them if they run the risk of confusing people.

    1. tabloidtained*

      I always get a kick out of seeing my cat’s teeny paws poking in underneath the door.

  57. Brain the Brian*

    My high school removed the stall doors in all of our bathrooms to prevent kids from doing drugs in bathroom stalls, and I used to hold in poop for 10 hours a day to avoid using them. I would probably quit if someone were insisting on using the bathroom with the stall door open at my office.

    1. TechWorker*

      Whaaaaat I am horrified!! They just expected children to drop their pants out in the open? And teenage girls to change tampons?! That is awful.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        Yep. Our school security had one collective brain cell, and they could not solve more than one problem at a time.

        1. Pdf*

          Because of vaping in the bathroom, we’ve created a situation where the only purpose the bathroom can comfortably used for is vaping.

    2. Generic Name*

      My son says his high school bathroom (at least the boys’ bathrooms) similarly do not have stall doors. He also holds #2 until he gets home.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        Sigh. It’s been long enough since I was in high school that I’d hoped we had improved on this front. Sad that we have not.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        Undoubtedly because the gregarious straight dudes who spent their own high school years on the football team changing fully nude in front of each other are the ones who wind up as high school principals.

  58. It's Me. Hi.*

    Be careful how you speak about my High Lady…

    HERE for the ACOTAR themed names, lol

  59. Coverage Associate*

    I am not a Canadian lawyer, and this probably isn’t the most practical solution, but in the interest of completeness:

    I once drafted a sublease where the sub tenant was a preschool in a building with 3 stall each men’s and women’s bathrooms. The preschool licensing required that no one else use the bathroom while the kids were using it, so they put up a sign and had an adult stand outside if there were lots of adults who weren’t teachers around that day. (I was also told that there was a little urinal for the little boys in the men’s room.)

    Maybe Freye could get a coworker to be a guard if a full room lock or sign are unworkable?

  60. Raw Cookie Dough*

    Any chance this could be a weird fetish, or a sub/dom thing? We’ve seen those things here before.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      The reason she’s doing it doesn’t matter beyond accommodating a medical issues which they have done.

      1. Raw Cookie Dough*

        Ummm…okay, Snapper Fish. I wasn’t trying to problem-solve; I was merely throwing out a theory.

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          Right and speculating like that goes against the commenting rules.

          It’s not helpful.

      2. Don't get it*

        A accommodation that imposes on everyone else in such an intrusive manner is never required. If she smells foul with clothing on, I hate to think of the smells that emanate with clothing off. People can claim all kinds of “medical issues” but unless documentation has been requested and provided, weird behavior such as this may have nothing to do with a truly medical issue. And even then, an accommodation may not be suitable in a workplace with other people in it.

        Why would any employer retain a marginal employee who is also unhygienic? Don’t even competent, clean employees get fired? Isn’t most employment at will in the US? This is the perfect scenario for a temp worker.

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          I in no way suggested the accommodation be anything that you are saying.

          I addressed unfounded speculation that is against the rules here. The extent the “why” matters is as relates to ADA accommodations which the employer has already demonstrated they have done. Speculating about the why beyond what’s in the letter doesn’t matter – it doesn’t change the advice.

    2. Pyjamas*

      That’s what I was thinking. Reminds me of Dan Savage and his anecdote about the shoe salesperson with a foot fetish. If the customer is none the wiser, and he does a good job fitting shoes, no problem. But once his fetish impacts the customer, it’s inappropriate.

      Same here. Even if this is a phobia instead of a fetish, the adult thing to do is work out a way to accommodate your “needs” without adversely affecting anyone else.

  61. MuseumChick*

    I struck me while reading this that over the years there have been several stories about what I can only describe as “passive-aggressive pooping”.

    OP, this company needs to figure out why their is such a high turnover rate for this job, fix it, and if (as I suspect) Feyre continues this behavior fire her and higher someone new.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      Right? I’ve only encountered passive-aggressive pooping from my spicy Chihuahua before. Thank god I haven’t (yet) had to deal with it at work.

  62. Molly Millions*

    I can think of several potential workarounds for this (including allowing Feyre to put up a “Do Not Enter” sign on the outer door of the bathroom when she goes in and remove it when she leaves), but if I were her boss, I would want more information before moving forward.

    I truly hate the idea of second-guessing people who disclose mental illness, and I have no doubt there are people whose claustrophobia is this severe – but something doesn’t add up here.
    If this is an ongoing problem for Feyre, it seems odd that she didn’t proactively request an accommodation, but instead decided it would be okay to expose her colleagues to intimate activity.

    I do have to wonder if this isn’t an indecent exposure situation.

  63. River*

    I’m wondering if they can suggest to Feyre that she use the last stall, like the one all the way in the back so that way staff don’t have to walk all the way back there. Also, put a sign like those “Caution Wet Floor” signs except something that says that the stall is in use and put it just outside the stall so people can avoid it. Not sure if suggesting she do that is legal however.

  64. RowdyRed*

    Many, many moons ago – I think it was MTV and the show was the first season (maybe?) of “Real World”. Anyway, one of the “adult” (I say adult, but for many of the housemates, this was probably their first time ‘adulting’ so think young and naive 19-22 year-olds), men would use the bathroom with the door wide open. When the castmates/housemates called him out on it, his rationalization was that growing up in his household, everyone went to the bathroom with the door wide open, to carry on conversations, etc. For him, that was normal and a revelation that other households closed the door to do their personal business!
    So …maybe…this is normal for Feyre.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Normal or not, Feyre has been told it isn’t acceptable behaviour.

      management made it clear she must either shut the stall door or use the private accessible toilet down the hall

      1. Whoaitsme*

        Why hasn’t this woman been terminated for refusing to comply? Her performance and hygiene issues are also contributing to her bad behavior.

  65. Astronaut Barbie*

    Why can’t someone leave a pad of Post-its in the bathroom and instruct her to put a note on the door when she is 0ccupying the bathroom? Surely people can wait or go to the accessible bathroom down the hall if its an emergency and she is in there.

  66. Hermione Danger*

    I have the opposite problem. My co-workers get very angry when I close the bathroom door and scratch and yowl at it until I let them in.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      Mine whines because she has to be staring directly at my whilst I’m showering. Otherwise there’s no way to know that I’m not secretly eating whole turkey legs a la Henry VIII without sharing with her in the shower, I guess.

        1. CommanderBanana*

          I have! And she’s right not to trust me, I once hid in the shower to eat chocolate because she can’t have it (she’s a dog, but a very cat-like dog) and she caught me because she got suspicious when the water didn’t turn on.

          Now I eat chocolate while drying my hair, because she doesn’t hear the crinkle of the wrapper over the sound of the hair dryer. Yes, I realize how ridiculous this is.

    2. Pyjamas*

      Our latest feline addition thinks a guy standing in front of the toilet and peeing into it is the Coolest. Thing. Ever. She stands up on her two hind to get a better view. Makes my partner a bit self-conscious tbh

      1. CommanderBanana*

        Hahahaha oh cats! My little dog likes to dash into the bathroom, hop up and put one paw on my knee, stare deeply into my eyes for a minute, and then dash away. I have no idea why.

  67. Blue Pen*

    I don’t mean to project or ascribe emotions to another person without hearing their side first, but is Feyre at all aware of how unconventional this is? And do they understand that this is something most people would be (at best) puzzled by? I’m not making judgments on accommodations necessary, but surely they have to understand the parameters of this situation and how it affects presumably everyone in the office. And if they don’t make any concession to that fact, I would seriously question if their judgment and maturity level was appropriate for the office. It’s one thing if they want to proactively find a solution for everyone involved; it’s quite another if they’re flaunting this act in such a way where it’s not a big deal, someone else’s issue to figure out, etc. It is a big deal, and I’m sorry for all involved.

  68. Working Class Lady*

    I’m all for being compassionate, and I understand what claustrophobia is. But this person should probably find a way to manage the closed stall door when they’re in public (or at work).
    Like you said, the line gets drawn when others’ rights get stepped on.

  69. Sean*

    ha, I remember in elementary school the stalls didn’t even have doors. we complained, I don’t remember if it was resolved.

  70. Hybrid Employee (Part Human, Part Wolf)*

    Well, this is just the worst Penthouse Forum letter I’ve ever read.

      1. Professional Cat Lady*

        Dammit, my boss just poked his head in wondering why I’m making little screaming noises!

  71. dustycrown*

    If management doesn’t address this, then you could opt to use the private accessible bathroom down the hall to avoid your open-door co-worker.

  72. Pyjamas*

    I know the protocol is to believe the LW, and I do think LW has accurately described the situation. But Feyre is not the letter writer! Yes, claustrophobia is real and a closed bathroom stall could set it off. However, as described, Feyre, who also has issues with personal hygiene, brought up claustrophobia as an excuse AFTER she was asked to close the door stall and she’s unwilling to work with management to find an accommodation that doesn’t negatively impact other people. Feyre has problems alright but even if claustrophobia is one of them, it’s not the main one

  73. Zee*

    How is flashing your coworkers like this not sexual harassment, and grounds for immediate firing?

      1. Dorothy Zpornak*

        That’s what I was going to say. I don’t see how this is any different from men using urinals, whipping it and urinating in front of each other. Don’t get me wrong, I think that practice is appalling and barbaric and shouldn’t happen (and if they all just sat down to pee their bathrooms wouldn’t smell so disgusting), but men don’t get protected in the workplace from having other people’s genitals exposed at them.


    I guess it is time to change my work bathroom habit. If the office bathroom is occupied I run out to warehouse Men’s room, the door sticks on the floor and says open on occasion I may leave it ajar to use urinal. This conversation made me realize our new manager is Female and is in warehouse at a moments notice. There are many bathroom issues related to the office bathrooms from cross gender use, customer use, excess time usage, lack of ventilation, and the pictures of every bathroom that have to be sent to corporate monthly.

  75. Liz*

    Last year, I walked into the ladies room and found one of the other women doing her thing with the door open. “We’ve worked together long enough,” she said, and I respectfully disagreed.

    I just walked in on another coworker changing clothes (not in a cubical), and then sat down with a restoring cup of tea and opened AAM. To this. And I see now that it could be worse.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      “We’ve worked together long enough,” she said, and I respectfully disagreed.

      *Lady Buttons voice* WHAT on EARTH.

      I don’t care if we’ve worked together since the dawn of time, I don’t want to see you using the bathroom, and I don’t want you to want me to see you using the bathroom!

  76. Hexiv*

    Maybe I don’t understand how claustrophobia functions, but would it be possible for the offending employee to drape a cloth over the bathroom door when she’s using it, in lieu of closing it? That would prevent anyone from seeing her, but wouldn’t create an actual barrier in front of her.

  77. Pickle Shoes*

    Yikes. I have a lot of empathy for the employee, and I wouldn’t be surprised if her claustrophobia is directly related to her poor hygiene. If the private restroom is also too enclosed, I hope she communicated that it genuinely isn’t a solution.

    The employer is ridiculous, though. I have a few specific roles that are hard to hire for, for reasons I can’t control, so I get it, but this lady is currently a walking morale black hole. I’m pretty sure they’ll enjoy backfilling everyone else’s jobs even less.

    If there’s a reasonable accommodation available and she agrees, great. If there isn’t (or she declines to use it) then you take whatever steps you need to remove her. This isn’t like a problem that only impacts the person who needs the accommodation, y’know? You can’t just decide that the office has to roll the dice on whether they’ll walk in and be greeted by their coworkers butthole every time they have to pee.

    She’s not even some freakish genius at the work itself and they can’t lose her for any reason or the company will tank. No. They just don’t feel like hiring again, so everyone gets to suffer.

  78. Who Plays Backgammon?*

    Gotta wonder what this place is like that professional admins don’t stay, to the point that Ms. Open Door Policy was hired.

  79. A Jane*

    Could a slidey sign that has engaged/vacant be added to the outer door, so only she can indicate when she’s in the bathroom? That way she gets the whole bathroom to herself or if others do want to go in, they have forewarning!

    My office’s bathroom has multiple stalls and during COVID these signs were added, so that only one person at once would be in the whole bathroom (which only has two stalls). The signs have stayed up and I like having the privacy! We have two bathrooms per floor, both with 2 stalls, one male and one female (though now it doesn’t really matter who uses which ones, but the male ones have urinals in them).

  80. MabelM*

    If these bathroom stalls are enclosed in a larger bathroom, can Feyrie perhaps close and lock the outer door while she is in there?

    Granted, it will prohibit anyone else from using the bathroom at that time, but it will definitely be less claustrophobic for her.

    Maybe give her a time limit to be in there in exchange for that concession?

    If she’s refusing all other reasonable requests, however, I don’t foresee her considering this one.

  81. Michele root*

    Let her use the main bathroom and lock the door of that one
    She isn’t in the bathroom all day is she
    The other employees can use the other bathroom when the door is locked

  82. Bill M*

    Weird, but there is an easy solution. Have her put something on the main door of the bathroom (a post it would work) that indicates she in there airing her particulars. Any one who wishes to avoid the view can use the single use bathroom, or wait for her to come out.

Comments are closed.