Panic Buttons in California: Hotel Workers Get New Protections

The Golden State is adding some extra shine to a vital employee safety measure.

Hotel workers in California will soon be able to press a button for help in hairy situations thanks to new legislation passed in the state.

Hotel Panic buttons, which allow workers to quickly and discreetly call for assistance, will be required in hotels across California as part of expanded protections for employees. No longer will housekeepers have to scream for help when guests get handsy – the push of a button will bring aid in an instant.

While panic buttons may conjure images of big red emergency switches that set off sirens and flashing lights, modern versions are small and subtle. So don’t expect hotels to light up like casinos along the Vegas Strip suddenly. The new panic button systems will bring some much-needed peace of mind to hospitality staff without disrupting the ambiance for guests.

Consider it another way California is keeping it classy in the #MeToo era. With more tools to stay safe, hotel workers can focus on providing top-notch service. It’s a win-win for employees and travelers alike. And if any unruly guests still make trouble, they can expect a swift response thanks to those handy buttons. So come enjoy the beautiful beaches and parks across the Golden State, but don’t mess with the housekeepers – because they can summon help at the touch of a button.

How can a Hotel Panic Button Ensure Employee Safety?

Hotels can be a prime target for crime with their open-door policies and varied clientele. Employees, particularly housekeepers, are vulnerable to sexual harassment and other forms of threatening behavior. While hotel management may not be aware of incidents, they do happen, and the impact on employees can be significant. This is where a hotel panic button can play a crucial role in ensuring employee safety and security.

However, it’s not just about sexual harassment. Other types of threatening behavior can make an employee feel uncomfortable and fearful. For example, stalking is a behavior that can start small and escalate quickly. In a Long Beach hotel, an employee recalls an incident that began as stalking and then turned into harassment, which was very disturbing for her. She felt uncomfortable and feared for the safety of her co-workers if the same guest targeted them.

workers to quickly and discreetly call for assistance with a panic buttonImplementing a hotel panic button can help prevent these situations from escalating by allowing employees to alert hotel security or management immediately. For instance, if a housekeeper feels threatened by a guest, they can press the panic button to request immediate assistance. This will enable hotel management to respond quickly, ensuring the employee’s safety and preventing the situation from escalating.

Moreover, hotel panic buttons are not only beneficial to employees but also help hotels comply with new regulations. In 2018, the American Hotel and Lodging Association released new safety guidelines requiring hotels to provide panic buttons to housekeeping staff. This regulation aims to prevent sexual harassment and other forms of threatening behavior, ensuring employee safety.

What Legal Options Do Hotel Employees Have After a Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is a traumatic experience that can have long-lasting impacts on employees. In the unfortunate event that a hotel employee is sexually assaulted, they may have legal options available to them. The Dordulian Law Group outlines potential damages that can be claimed in a civil lawsuit, including pain and suffering, counseling or therapy expenses, hospital or medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity, diminished quality of life, emotional or psychological trauma, and punitive damages, which are not capped in California.

While the damages may vary depending on the specific case, it’s important to note that hotel employees have the right to seek compensation for the harm they have experienced. They can file a civil claim against the perpetrator, the hotel, or both, depending on the circumstances of the assault.

It’s also worth noting that hotels have a legal obligation to provide a safe work environment for their employees. If a hotel fails to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual assault, they may be liable for their employees’ damages.

How Are California Cities Proposing Legislation to Improve Hotel Worker Safety?

In the wake of recent events, many California cities are recognizing the need to improve hotel worker safety. Following the lead of Los Angeles, which passed the ‘Hotel Worker Protection Ordinance’ in 2022, neighboring cities are proposing similar legislation to protect their hotel workers.

For instance, Laguna Beach had an amendment for ‘Workplace Standards and Protections for Hotel Employees’ on the recent November 8, 2022, election ballot. Meanwhile, the City of Irvine narrowly passed a similar workers’ protection ordinance in the city council’s first vote on October 25, 2022. After the final vote on November 22, 2022, it officially became the first city in Orange County to enact such protections.

Moreover, similar ordinances are being proposed to the City of Anaheim for their council to review. Given Anaheim’s location close to Los Angeles and Long Beach, which already have an ordinance in effect, it is ideal for a high-volume tourist area to also have an ordinance passed.

This growing trend of enacting hotel worker safety ordinances is a significant step towards ensuring employee safety and security in the workplace. By providing clear guidelines and standards, hotels can prevent incidents from taking place and protect their employees in the event of an emergency.

Furthermore, the adoption of a hotel panic button is becoming an industry standard for California hotels. In addition to protecting their employees, it is also viewed as an added benefit and competitive advantage. For example, a housekeeper working on the edge of two cities, one with a worker safety ordinance and one without, may choose to take the job at the property with better safety policies and similar compensation.

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