SACRAMENTO — Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) and joint author Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) on Jan. 3 introduced the so-called hotel maid “panic button” bill, which will require hotels to provide employees working alone in a guest room with a “panic button.”

Meant to protect employees from sexual harassment and sexual assault, the panic button, carried by the employee, can be used if the employee reasonably believes an “ongoing crime, harassment or other emergency is happening in the employee’s presence.”

The bill also requires that a hotel record any accusations that a guest has committed an act of violence or sexual harassment against an employee and keep a list of those accusations for five years. The hotel will decline service, for a period of three years, to any guest accused of these crimes when a statement is made under penalty of perjury.

After those three years, a hotel employer must inform an employee, prior to the start of his or her shift, that he or she is assigned to work alone in a room of a guest who is on the list and warn the employee to “exercise caution when entering that guest’s room.”

“Hotel employees deserve to feel safe when they are doing their job. We have heard much about the danger for hotel maids, who often work in situations that put them at risk of sexual assault or harassment. This would be an important step in keeping those employees safe from harm,” said Muratsuchi.

“Hotel workers often work alone, cleaning room after room – thus making them vulnerable to unwanted sexual advances and worse, victims of assault. I am proud to be working on this bill with Assemblymember Muratsuchi to not only raise awareness on the issue, but do more to create a safer working environment for hotel workers,” said Quirk.

“UNITE HERE has supported similar legislation in Washington State and the State of Illinois,” said Jack Gribbon, California political director of UNITE HERE. “Our union is eager to support this type of legislation around the country since it would help to protect workers in the hospitality industry from harassment from individuals who have acted with impunity over many years. Although we have protections against harassment in our contracts in the unionized hospitality industry, the workers in the non=union industry would benefit the most from this important bill.”

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