Keeping Hotel Housekeepers Safe: New Jersey Becomes First State to Require Panic Buttons

Jun 13, 2019

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When you come back to a hotel room that’s been meticulously cleaned, you might not think much about the housekeepers responsible for tidying up. But they are some of the most vulnerable workers in the hospitality industry.

Unfortunately, stories of guests sexually harassing housekeepers are all too common, and often go unreported. Fortunately, there is something hotel management can do.

On Tuesday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill requiring hotels with more than 100 rooms to provide panic buttons for housekeepers to wear. The small devices can be concealed in a pocket and will summon hotel security if pushed. The bill will take effect in January of 2020 and will apply to all nine casinos in Atlantic City, not to mention countless other hotels across the state.

New Jersey is the first state to pass such a bill, though similar legislation is being considered in Florida, Illinois and the state of Washington.

“Today, the lawmakers in New Jersey stood up with my coworkers and I to say no more to guests exposing themselves to us, soliciting us for sex and allowing us to be unsafe as we open the door to a guest room, with no idea what is waiting for us behind it,” Iris Sanchez, a housekeeper at Caesars, told Fox News. “It’s great knowing I’ll be able to come home safe at the end of my shift. I can do my job without being worried.”

Some brands already use panic buttons without it being required by law. According to Reuters, Hilton and Marriott announced last year that they would make alert devices a new standard across their portfolio of hotels by 2020.

“No one should ever be fearful doing their job, least of all associates on-property who are so vital to the success of our company and our industry,” Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International said in a statement last year. “The safety of everyone at our properties is always a top priority as is deterring and combatting harassment of any kind. I’m deeply proud to say our entire industry is unified around these important goals.”

Here’s hoping more hotel brands — and states — will follow suit.

Featured photo by djedzura / Getty Images.

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