GOP senator: Don't make employees wash their hands after going to the bathroom, because freedom

Down with tyrannical hygienic regulations!

Published February 3, 2015 7:08PM (EST)

Thom Tillis                   (AP)
Thom Tillis (AP)

For much of the past 36 or so hours, we've heard from a number of Republicans that risking the occasional measles outbreak is simply the price of liberty.  While Rand Paul and Chris Christie were busy championing the sacred right to expose others to disease, it fell to freshman Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) to take up the next great cause in the fight for freedom from regulatory overreach. We speak, of course, of the right of restaurants not to require their employees to wash their hands after using the restroom.

Speaking during a question-and-answer session at the Bipartisan Policy Center on Monday, Tillis related a story from his tenure in the North Carolina legislature to help explain his overarching philosophy on the finer points of hand-washing.

“I was having this discussion with someone, and we were at a Starbucks in my district, and we were talking about certain regulations where I felt like maybe you should allow businesses to opt out,” Tillis said, in remarks first reported by the District Sentinel. “Let an industry or business opt out as long as they indicate through proper disclosure, through advertising, through employment, literature, whatever else. There’s this level of regulations that maybe they’re on the books, but maybe you can make a market-based decision as to whether or not they should apply to you.”

When Tillis' interlocutor noticed a Starbucks employee coming out of the restroom and inquired whether Tillis would apply his anti-regulation stance to employee hygiene, Tillis affirmed that he would.

“I don’t have any problem with Starbucks if they choose to opt out of this policy as long as they post a sign that says, ‘We don’t require our employees to wash their hands after they use the restroom,’” he said. “The market will take care of that.”

At the conclusion of yesterday's Q & A, the moderator cracked, "I'm not sure I'm gonna shake your hand."

By Luke Brinker

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Government Regulation Republicans Senate Republicans Thom Tillis Workplace