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Privacy in the Restroom? Not at the Showcase Mall Food Court!
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Privacy in the Restroom? Not at the Showcase Mall Food Court!

Categories: Opinion

Interior of the Showcase Mall Food Court at 3785 Las Vegas Boulevard South in Las Vegas where men, women, boys, and girls routinely use the same restroom at the same time.
Interior of the Showcase Mall Food Court at 3785 Las Vegas Boulevard South in Las Vegas where men, women, boys, and girls routinely use the same restroom at the same time.
July 3, 2011

Men, women, boys, and girls using the same restroom at the same time?

In another country, I might expect it.  But not in America.  Not even in Las Vegas.

This is apparently not only common at the Showcase Mall Food Court at 3785 Las Vegas Boulevard South in Las Vegas, it seems to be encouraged by the food court employees and management.

When I first visited Russia, I soon learned that most public restrooms had an attendant, almost always a woman.  It's customary there for the attendant to follow a man into the men's room, and immediately start cleaning up after him.  That's not the custom in America, and I kinda like it that way.

But, apparently, our customs, "they are a-changin'."  Big time.

Today, I went into the Showcase Mall Food Court located on the Strip near the Coca-Cola Store, M & M World, and Gameworks, among the most family-oriented places in Las Vegas.  While I was there, I went to use the men's room.  The door was propped open and a woman was standing outside the entrance to the men's room staring in.  I thought that was odd, but, hey, it's Las Vegas.

She was looking into the men's room because her young daughter was using it.  Even stranger, I thought.  There were other men, boys, and a female Dairy Queen employee using it at the same time.  Some were in private stalls, others were not.

I waited until all the women and girls left before going in, and I closed the door behind me.  There was no lock on the door.  As I was finishing, the same Dairy Queen employee (did I mention that she was a female?) burst in without hesitation or even a hint of a knock.

"I left my cell phone in here," she proclaimed.

I objected, but she ignored me, continued in to retrieve her cell phone, exited, and went back to the Dairy Queen where she worked.  (As if that's not bad enough, she didn't wash her hands, either, but I'll get over that since I don't eat at Dairy Queen.)

I immediately went to the Dairy Queen and asked to speak to her supervisor.  The employee, Chevelle, insisted she didn't have a supervisor.  When I asked for the contact information for a supervisor or manager, she either refused to provide it or, as she said, she didn't know how to contact the supervisor.  (Her supervisor later told me she knew how to reach him.)

"He's supposed to be here at five, but he's always late, so I don't know when he'll be here," Chevelle told me.

I waited.

Showcase Mall Food Court exterior sign at night.
Showcase Mall Food Court exterior sign at night.
Some time after 5:00pm, Derreck Nash, the owner of the Dairy Queen, approached me and we talked.  I expressed my concerns, and he made several asinine claims:

  1. The "code" (apparently referring to the Clark County Code, the laws that govern Clark County where Las Vegas is located) requires the food court to prop open the doors so security officers can look in, without having to enter the restrooms, to make sure there are no homeless people camped out inside.  This is what Nash told me!
  2. It's common practice, Nash said, for men, women, boys, and girls of all ages to use the same Showcase Mall Food Court restroom at the same time - with the doors propped open - and private activity clearly visible to the countless visitors, including children, who passed by or entered.  Chevelle and another food court employee told me the same thing.
  3. When Nash's employees left the Dairy Queen space to go to the restroom, he didn't care which one - men's or women's - they used.  As far as he was concerned, during the time any Dairy Queen employee was away from the actual Dairy Queen space, they were no longer Dairy Queen employees.  They were on their own.  Therefore, he said, I had no legitimate reason to lodge a complaint with him or Dairy Queen, especially since I didn't make a purchase at Dairy Queen.  In fact, Nash told me he didn't care which restroom anyone used, and he felt he and the other employees had no obligation to try to enforce any commonly accepted moral rules regarding the use of any restroom, not even those where he was a business owner, when it came to gender assignment.
  4. The "code" requires the food court to provide restrooms for its customers.  (That, I believe, is true.)  That means, according to Nash, that while one restroom is being cleaned, the food court must, by law, open the other restroom to both male and female visitors.

Of course, there is no such code that requires any business to prop open restroom doors at any time.  And, of course, Nash could not quote the code, produce a copy of it, or even reference it.

"You can find it online," he insisted.

You can't, but if you want to look for yourself, knock yourself out.  Here's the link.

Showcase Mall Food Court exterior sign at night.
Showcase complex exterior at night.
A security officer who needs to check any restroom for any reason can open the door and, if necessary, go in.  (If it's a male security office and the women's restroom, he needs to take necessary precautions so that he doesn't invade anyone's privacy.  Same for a female officer and the men's room.)

They can't do that, Nash claimed, because the code requires the food court to leave the doors open.

According to a maintenance crew representative, the doors are routinely propped open because, she said, they sometimes find people inside the restrooms having sex.  She said, per her supervisor's instruction, maintenance props the doors open so "they" can always see inside the restrooms without having to actually go in.

Here's my opinion:

  • With rare exceptions, males should NEVER enter the women's restroom, and females should NEVER enter the men's restroom.
  • A restroom door should never intentionally be left or propped open for any reason if private activity is visible from outside the entrance, especially where there might be children present.
  • If a single restroom is to be shared among the two genders, there should be a lock on the entrance door so that anyone who goes inside can lock the door behind them preventing others, especially those of the opposite sex, from entering.

Here are two examples of possible exceptions to the first rule:

  1. There are no males on the maintenance staff; a female maintenance employee is assigned to clean the men's restroom; that female employee confirms that the men's room is not occupied or being used; the employee closes the men's room for cleaning (hotel guest room attendants, i.e., maids, generally block the entrance to a room with their cleaning carts); the employee enters to perform her duties; and the employee immediately leaves when any man, for whatever reason, enters the men's room, even if it is closed and clearly indicated.  This is not only for privacy reasons, but for the employees' own safety.
  2. A mother has her young son with her; he needs to use the restroom, but he's either too young to go by himself, or the mother feels it isn't safe to allow him to go alone; the mother takes her young son into the women's restroom with her. (Hopefully, she would take him into the privacy of an enclosed stall.)

If any restroom at the Showcase Mall Food Court is closed for cleaning, visitors have two reasonable choices that will ensure no one's privacy is violated:

  1. They can wait five minutes (according to the maintenance crew representative) until the maintenance crew has finished, or
  2. If they can't wait, they can use the neighboring Gameworks restroom.

Since Chevelle had already been inside the men's room, left her cell phone there, exited, and then returned to a closed door, she had two very reasonable options:

  1. At the very least, she could have and should have knocked first.  Loudly.  She should have then waited until the men's room was no longer occupied before entering to retrieve her cell phone.
  2. A more reasonable solution would be to simply ask any male - there were dozens around - to go into the men's room and retrieve her cell phone for her.

Nash rolled his eyes when I made those suggestions.

When I asked Chevelle why she was in the men's room to begin with, she told me a member of the maintenance staff told her to use the men's room while the women's room was being cleaned.  But the maintenance crew representative I spoke to said none of the staff would ever tell anyone to use either restroom.  It's entirely the user's option.  In other words, the Showcase Mall Food Court management, business owners, managers, and employees seem to have no objection if females use the men's room, or males use the women's room, even if both males and females, children and adults, all use the same restroom at the same time.

But what about those of us who object to sharing the restroom with members of the opposite sex?

"There's nothing we can do about it," says Nash.  "People litter all the time.  We can't teach them not to." (Nash was apparently using littering as an analogy.)

I strongly disagree.

If, without complaining, we allow people to do wrong, and if management of businesses make policies and procedures that allow and/or encourage wrongful behavior, yes, it makes it very difficult to teach people right from wrong.  But we can, and we must, let others know when they've done something wrong, especially when they don't seem to recognize it themselves, as Chevelle failed to do.

Chevelle did something seriously wrong.  She should have never entered the men's restroom while it was occupied and being used by men and boys.

Showcase Mall Food Court has done something seriously wrong.  They've made it common practice to allow and even encourage employees, business owners, and customers to routinely violate the privacy of countless others.

I believe the majority of Showcase Mall Food Court customers, and Americans, for that matter, would agree with me.  Most just don't want to waste their time complaining.  Neither do I.

I spent almost one hour in the food court trying to get the name of the person with whom I should lodge my complaint.  At around 5:30, Nash finally gave me the first name, Stephan, of the director of the food court.

I hope to speak with Stephan this week, and update the story as it develops.


UPDATES

Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - I arrived at Stephan's office in the food court a little before 7:00 am.  Food court employees told me he didn't usually arrive until 8:00 or 8:30.  I waited until 7:15, then left.


Thursday, July 7, 2011 - I arrived at Stephan's office in the food court around 8:30 am, but the door was locked and no one answered.  I called the mall management office, but got only a recorded message (8:38 am).  A security officer refused to direct me to the mall management office.

"They won't meet with anybody unannounced," he told me.



User Comments:
Jim Krause - Jul 31, 2011 03:01:18 — Wow, that is a crappy policy. I can see both sides of the story either way but I am curious as to what you have against the Dairy Queen? It appears that the owner you mention was the only source of information for the food court...does he own the food court also and created the policy? You sure b ...more
Jonas - Jul 31, 2011 01:06:56 — The sources were the employee, Chevelle; her supervisor, the Dairy Queen owner, Derreck Nash; and a maintenance crew representative, who I agreed not to name.

No, Nash doesn't own the food court, and he didn't establish the policy.  But, in my opinion, he is directly responsible  ...more
It was an accident - Dec 5, 2011 01:31:28 — The first thing I have to say to you is that the name of my boss was the first thing I gave you and i simply told you I could not give you his phone number and that he came in at 5 so you could wait for him , which u did and made me feel like a hawk stalking his prey while you staired at me making e ...more
Jonas - Dec 5, 2011 04:45:58 — Thanks for your comments, Chevelle.  I hope it helps everyone understand the story better.

The bottom line is that men, women, boys, and girls should not be using the same restroom, public or private, at the same time.  Showcase Mall management, Stephan, Derreck, you, ...more
That doesn't make sense - Apr 27, 2012 01:28:37 — I never heard of such a thing. As you said, it was a woman with a little girl so the mother should have taken her into the ladies room. Why would they be in the men's? Now if it was a little girl out with her FATHER, then they could go into the men's room. But only because the father is with her and ...more
Jonas - Apr 27, 2012 03:16:04 — Thanks for having common sense! You're right - if a child is too young to go into a public restroom alone, some reasonable accommodations must be made. But I would not classify the young girl in this story as a "little girl". My best guess was that she was 10 to 12 years old. Unfortuna ...more
That's way too old - Apr 29, 2012 04:16:48 — It's usually considered all right and overlooked until the child is aware of the differences between genders and has knowledge of being in the other restroom. As to what age this is can be uncertain because it may vary to each child. But probably at school age, 5 plus. Yes, 10-12 is not a little  ...more
It all makes sense - Oct 2, 2012 06:05:00 — Im going to appologize for all my typos now LOL. First of all this is Chevelle I came back to this website because its gonna really help me right now, but anyways. Jonas you are insane to clarify your story a little more, when I went to the bathroom to use it NOBODY was in there with me. It only too ...more
chaz - Oct 19, 2012 10:36:49 — I work with a female on a cleaning crew for the town i live in and she is constantly coming into the mens restroom. It makes me very uncomfortable and i do not know what to do or call aboit it cause she is well liked by management and i don't want to lose my job over the whole thing. But its very un ...more
Jonas - Oct 23, 2012 11:37:57 — Chaz, if you ask to speak with your supervisor(s) privately, and can express your concerns with even a little bit of diplomacy, my guess is that they'll side with you. Yes, there is work that must be done, sometimes by a member of the opposite sex, but there should always be some etiquette about how ...more
OhioNative - Dec 29, 2012 12:37:11 — In Ohio theres a place called Riverbend. Its an outdoor music venue. Always way more women then men. The one place, the mens room. For every 25 Guys, theres 2to 3 females. There accepted and by most encouraged. I understand "its a family place" but its; Vegas. Anyone who brings a minor to  ...more
Jonas - Dec 29, 2012 02:10:23 — First of all, thanks for caring enough to write.  What you've described happens all over the world, not just in Riverbend.  But from my experience, women generally ask permission first (sometimes assertively), and they use the mens facilities only in an emergency, not simply because the la ...more
Pandora - Feb 4, 2013 09:06:37 — Hello Jonas! I'd like to share my opinion on this issue and gender segregated restrooms in particular.

The societies this day and age (Americans being on the top of the list) had accepted some kind of specific thinking and views on many things which are now no longer being subjected t ...more
Jonas - Feb 7, 2013 09:36:36 — Thanks, Pandora, for taking soooooooo much time to write!    ;)

Since you referred to "you Americans", and you seem to dwell on European culture, I'm guessing you're European.  I love Europe, I love the European people, and I don't want to be rude, but I  ...more
Restrooms are separate ... - Jun 1, 2013 12:58:42 — ...for a reason. Each person has the right to expect to be able to use their own restroom without having someone of the opposite gender observing them. (The exception would be real small children)
mr x - Jun 21, 2013 02:35:08 — man up who cares just go in to do what you need to and leave.
Jonas - Jun 23, 2013 02:37:41 — It's not about me, mr x.  I'm sorry you put so much time and thought into the matter for nothing.  Thanks anyway.
steve - Jul 5, 2013 01:51:26 — all bathrooms/restrooms ect should be unisex
billy - Apr 3, 2016 03:53:34 — This is no big deal to us in the UK and Europe it's part of life. we have open plan unisex toilets for all to use and see not that anyone takes any notice.
Jonas - Apr 3, 2016 11:14:40 — I'll try to be a little less rude than I was the last time someone brought this to my attention.

I've been to parts of Europe, including eastern Europe (but never to the UK), and from my limited experience, there were always clearly marked, separate facilities for men and women.  ...more
John in the Jon - Apr 16, 2016 12:00:39 — According to your definition of privacy: "Personally (and I'm not alone), I don't want to see anyone using the john, and I don't want anyone - male or female - seeing me, either. That's what privacy means." In order for restrooms to be private, they need to service only one person  ...more
Jonas - Apr 16, 2016 01:01:05 — John in the Jon, you're making this far more complicated than it needs to be.  Men/boys use the room designated for them.  Woman/girls use the room designated for them.  It's that simple.  Do we really need to intellectually justify this concept?  (The correct answer  ...more
Sue - May 22, 2016 01:01:50 — Looks like the comments are getting out of hand. I can see it from both sides, we all have what we are use to and should not judge others for what they know and is use to for the way off life or know from growing up
ken - Jul 31, 2016 12:43:24 — I think there should be a separate ladies room but the men's room should be public which allows women to walk in at will.
Sue  - Jul 2, 2017 07:50:14 — Is America more open to this now the world is more open and relaxed about unisex/ all genders eat bathroom are here
Jonas - Jul 5, 2017 06:18:22 — Liberals are trying to force America and the world to be open and accepting, but most of us (Americans) still prefer privacy for ourselves.  What others do is irrelevant.  No one should have to sacrifice their privacy simply because others are immodest or confused about their own bi ...more
Clay - Aug 15, 2017 03:37:41 — I think restrooms should all be coed. If a man is modest, he can use a stall. The women will all use stalls anyway. That would certainly end the long lines at women's rooms. If there is a line, it will include men & women in line. Equal opportunity.
Cassie - Oct 6, 2017 11:31:35 — Adults need to always use the correct restroom. If a woman has a little boy she needs to take him into the ladies room and if a man is with a little girl he has to take her to the men's room. It is unethical for adults to enter the opposite sex private room while someone is using it; someone could b ...more

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