No Running Water at Office - Legal to Keep Building Open?

Updated on July 06, 2012
M.M. asks from Detroit, MI
15 answers

A water main break caused my office building to lose its water supply Tuesday afternoon. The management told us to walk across the street to another building (owned by same company) to use the bathroom, get water, etc. As of this morning, there is still no water and they said it might not be fixed until tomorrow. My boss told us it is not a big deal to walk to the other building. Maybe I'm spoiled but I totally disagree and think it might even be illegal for the company to keep my building open for employees. I can't quite figure it out by Googling. Does anyone know?

P.S. I do plan on just going home next time I have to pee (I've already been to the other building once). I can't make my lunch without water! Plus I drink a lot of water and have to pee at least once an hour. Ugh.

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So What Happened?

Ha, ok, I guess I am spoiled! Thanks for the reality check.

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answers from Austin on

Well........ is that any different that construction/utility workers that have to use a port a potty and drink out of a water cooler? At least you have air conditioning!

Sorry...... I think you are a little out of line....

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8 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

They are offering a supply of water. This was a maintenance issue that is being taken care of. In the mean time, they are offering you another source. No, this is NOT illegal. If they purposefully did not allow you water, that would be illegal. Seriously, you can't walk across the street to pee? Spoiled, indeed!!

12 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I don't see why it would be illegal if they are offering up another building for use.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

It sounds a bit selfish to me. Your boss offered an alternative location for use for facilities. Cut back on the water. Bring a bottle or two so that you can make a lunch with water.

In this day and age if you want to scream a lot about conditions. There's the door. Someone else will be along to fill that spot.

You are working out of an OFFICE bullding not a restaurant. There is a big difference.

Time to grow up and go with the flow. Think about the people who did lose their power and have no way to get water or cook. Now that is an inconvenience. Don't sweat the small stuff.

The other S.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

So long as they are paying you it is not illegal. They are the ones suffering an inefficient work force, you just have to walk a bit.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I don't know if it is legal or not. Since there are nearby facilities I don't see the problem with them staying open. And personally I don't think it is unreasonable to just walk across the street. If it bugs you that much just cut back on the water a little for a day. As a business owner I know how detrimental it is to the a company to have to unexpectedly shut down for a day or 2. Even this heat wave is decreasing our productivity so much that we are losing money.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

If your building was running a restaurant, I think running water on the property would be a requirement for the restaurant to stay open.
Water for food prep, washing equipment and employee hand washing is a must.
You have a work around (walking across the street), you can carry a water bottle with you to prepare your lunch, and it should only be for a short while (end of this week).
It may not be ideal - but it CAN be nice to get out of the office for a stroll now and then.
If it's really dangerous to cross the street, the work around could be a problem.
Maybe you could take a vacation day (or sick day) and come back when it's fixed (if you have the time to burn).

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Bloomington on

I think the only way it could be deemed illegal is if it is a dine-in restaurant type place that sells food. If they don't have potable water or restrooms to use for the customers, then they would have to close.

In your situation, I think it's inconvenient, but not illegal.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Weeks on end, maybe - a couple of days for repairs? I doubt it. It's not a big deal, really, it's just an inconvenience. Drink a little less or hold it longer re. the peeing. :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

I'm about 99% certain that it's not illegal. In almost every place I've worked they've lost water for a day or two. We even lost power and still had to work. If it's an actual hardship for certain employees then they have to take that into consideration, of course, but if it's merely an inconvenience then it's not illegal.

Although as others said, if it's a business like a restaurant that relies on clean running water then yes it is illegal.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

As long as everyone has the 'ability' to walk to across the street is it legal. If anyone has any type of physical issue that could keep them from easily crossing the street, that person would not be expected to come to work. They should be supplying bottled water on site though, not requiring you to cross the street for that, just as a common courtesy (it's $5 bucks for 48 bottles). And I don't think you are spoiled at all. I also have to go the RR a lot, and yes that would be a more than an inconvenience to have to leave the building to go pee several times a day.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

It may depend on your city or state codes, and for that you'd have to call your city.

If you worked in a restaurant and had water problems, you'd definitely have to close.



answers from Washington DC on

The only way you would get a real answer is to call your building department or health department



answers from Detroit on

Not illegal. In June, we started having our pipes redone in our building in a project that lasts until August. No bathrooms or water fountains until then. We go to another building.
Inconvenient? Oh yes! Bring a water bottle for making your lunch and maybe another bottle for your other watering needs. It'll all be over soon.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I think you might give a call the local health department that does inspections for food service places or similar places and find out the legalities of it.

I complained about a laundry mat that turned off the Ac and fans at the time posted for last loads to go in the washer. I was only drying clothes, my dryer was broken so I took my clothes there already washed. It got terribly hot in there. I had to go sit down or pass out a couple of times. I ended up making the lady work at least a half hour past the time she was supposed to be off work. I called and told the day lady the next day so they would know why I had taken so long.

Then I called the health department who does health permits for restaurants. It is not against any health code to have no AC in a business but they MUST have heat....go figure that one out.

I think that if anyone is preparing food or caring for children they cannot be open in those areas without water running hot and cold from the faucets. As for water to flush toilets and other stuff I am not sure. But the local health inspector would know I bet.

Next question: Business Wouldn't Let My Daughter Use the Bathoom. Your Thoughts.