One Firm’s Bathroom Policy: Hold It

It seems the more versions of this story I read, the more ludicrous it becomes. A company in Chicago, WaterSaver Faucet, is facing a lawsuit filed with the National Labor Relations Board by the 455616613 -- toilet deskTeamsters Local 743 on behalf of its employees. Why? Because, according to the suit, they are only allowed to use the bathroom for six minutes a day. Anything more and they’ll face disciplinary measures.

Which is precisely what happened to 19 of the company’s 140 employees who were issued written or oral warnings for spending more than their allotted 30 minutes per week in the washroom, according to this story posted on the Opposing Views site.

The union says monitoring bathroom time is an invasion of privacy. As Nick Kreitman, the Teamsters’ WaterSaver representative, says in this CNN Money piece:

The company has spreadsheets on every union employee on how long they were in the bathroom. There have been meetings with workers and human resources where the workers had to explain what they were doing in the bathroom.”

Excuse me?? They really wanted that information?

That story goes into some detail about where this six-minute concept originated and why.

The company’s human resource department described ‘excessive use of the bathroom as … 60 minutes or more over the last 10 working days,’ according to the affidavit. Do the math and it works out to 6 minutes a day.

The controversy goes back to last winter when WaterSaver installed swipe-card systems on bathrooms located off the factory floor. The company said it had little choice because some employees were spending way too much time in there, and not enough time on the manufacturing line.

WaterSaver’s CEO, Steve Kersten, said 120 hours of production were lost in May because of bathroom visits outside of allotted break times.”

And then there’s this story in the New York Daily News detailing how WaterSaver even adopted a rewards system that allows workers to earn a gift card worth up to $20 each month if they don’t use the bathroom at all during their shift.

Kreitman’s quoted in that piece saying the company “offered $1 per day for anyone who doesn’t go to the bathroom at all.”

Uhm … excuse me?? Again??

Clearly, WaterSaver sees this as a real problem. Perhaps the picture above offers one way around that. But all joking aside, this appears to me to be a sad commentary on the level of trust — or lack thereof — that still exists at some companies today.

In addition to wondering how the company will respond to the union’s suit and the NLRB, I can’t help but wonder how its HR and benefits leaders plan to respond to questions from their insurance carrier about the inordinate number of doctor’s visits its covering for bladder and kidney ailments resulting from holding it all day long.