- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Washington baseball fans expect the District’s proposed new major league stadium to have it all — luxury boxes, great seats, outfield views of the monuments — and ladies’ restrooms. Lots and lots of ladies’ restrooms.

The District needs to ensure that its proposed stadium meets evolving standards for “potty parity,” said John Banzhaf, professor of public interest law at George Washington University and one of the nation’s authorities on legal battles over access to public restrooms.

Mr. Banzhaf sent a letter yesterday to D.C. Council members, warning that current stadium plans have too few restrooms for women and could result in sex-discrimination lawsuits if women have to wait in significantly longer lines than men. Such waits could be in violation of federal and D.C. law.

“A growing number of courts have now recognized that this may constitute illegal sex discrimination, and in part, our D.C. Human Rights Act provided that anything that has the ‘effect or consequence’ of [disadvantaging] one gender over the other is illegal whether or not the result is intended,” Mr. Banzhaf said.

He said the stadium’s preliminary blueprints tout one toilet for every 75 women, and one toilet for every 350 men and one urinal for every 100 men, according to a Washington City Paper report quoting ballpark architect Joseph Spear.

Those plans, Mr. Banzhaf said, will cause “some pretty huge backups.”

Tony Robinson, spokesman for the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, said Mr. Banzhaf is “uninformed.”

“We have every confidence that the stadium is going to be built in accordance to every [American Disabilities Act] guideline that applies to the new ballpark,” he said. “We don’t even know the total number of restrooms that will be in the stadium, so where he’s getting his information from we’re not sure.”

Mr. Robinson said the designs of HOK Sport, the architectural firm behind 21 of the most recent major league stadiums, are beyond code.

“So we don’t think we’re doing anything discriminatory. As a matter of fact, we’re sure we aren’t,” he said.

This isn’t the first time Mr. Banzhaf has caused a stir.

Dubbed the “father of potty parity” for filing several court complaints — including the first one on the federal level — Mr. Banzhaf has successfully brought similar lawsuits against dry cleaners and hair salons in the District that charged women more for the same services provided to men. He has also filed suits against tobacco companies and an obesity suit against McDonald’s, among others.

Potty parity laws — adopted by about a dozen jurisdictions across the country, including New York City — require twice as many restroom facilities for women as men in stadiums, theaters and other venues. The laws were adopted because studies have shown that women tend to spend twice as much time in restrooms as men.

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