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New legislation may help keep hotel workers safe

A proposed bill in California would require hotels to provide panic buttons to employees. These buttons would allow employees to seek assistance if they are threatened or other put in danger by a guest. According to one of the bill's authors, the intent is to protect maids and other staff who may have to go into a room by themselves from potential sexual harassment. In July 2017, 500 hotel and casino workers affiliated with an Illinois labor union responded to a survey about sexual harassment.

Of respondents, 58 percent said that they had been the victim of such harassment by hotel guests. In some cases, guests had opened the door naked or otherwise exposed themselves to a staff member. If the bill passes, hotels may be allowed to keep complaints made by employees for up to five years. Guests who are found to be engaging in sexual harassment may be banned by the establishment for three years.

It is possible that a hotel worker or any other worker could face sexual harassment from both employers and customers alike. Those who are the subject of comments that are sexual in nature or unwanted advances may be victims of such harassment. They may be able to take legal action against their employer or against the person who actually engages in the illegal activity.

If an employer engages in unlawful retaliation against an employee after receiving a complaint, that may be a violation of employment law. An attorney may be able to help an individual obtain compensation or other relief after being the victim of harassment or retaliation. Those who are wrongfully terminated after making a complaint may be entitled to back pay as well as to reinstatement to their former position with full pay and benefits if desired.

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