California May Require Panic Buttons for Hotel Workers
A bill proposed by California South Bay Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi would require hotels to give panic buttons to employee use in cases where they fear assault or other emergencies while on the job.
Assembly Bill 1761, which was co-authored by California Assembly members Bill Quirk and Wendy Carrillo, is based on a Seattle-area ordinance and would impose a three-year ban for any guest accused of violence or sexual harassment against an employee and will require hotels to keep a list of the accused for five years.
Chicago and Seattle passed similar measures — in 2017 and 2016, respectively — and union housekeepers in New York carry panic buttons to alert security in case they find themselves in a threatening situation – a practice put into place after union negotiations in 2012.
A survey of 487 housekeepers in Chicago found that 96% would feel safer if they were equipped with a wearable panic button, according to a report issued in 2016 by the Chicago chapter for Unite Here, a union that represents hospitality workers nationwide.
The survey also found that more than 45% of workers have had a guest answer the door naked; nearly 15% have been cornered by a guest; nearly 10% have been touched; and 15% to 25% have either felt pressured for dates or sexual favors or received unwanted sexual attention or gestures.
Panic buttons can cost $75 to $150, with monitoring services costing upwards of $15 per employee.