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Hotel Industry Fights Calls For Hand-Held Panic Buttons For Vulnerable Workers

Sexual harassment accusations involving dozens of high-profile celebrities have topped headlines for weeks, but these incidents are not limited to Hollywood. 

Hotel Room

A survey of 500 hotel and casino workers in the Chicago area found that more than half of hotel workers had experienced sexual harassment at the hands of a guest. Another 49% had witnessed a guest exposing themselves or opening the door naked.

In an effort to prevent sexual harassment and assault on hotel housekeepers, some cities have moved to arm workers with panic buttons. But not everyone in the hospitality industry is buying into the initiative.

The American Hotel and Lodging Association called the panic buttons an “effective fig leaf” for other regulations being proposed for the hotel industry such as wage increases, Huffington Post reports.

As the proposal specifically targets the hospitality industry, the AHLA worries the initiative is less about protecting workers from sexual harassment and more a ploy to attack hotel working conditions.

The AHLA claims to have safety training programs in place for all employees and is actively countering attacks on hotel working conditions through a social media campaign platform called "Hospitality is Working." The campaign aims to showcase positive programs and initiatives being tackled by industry players.

Still, there are several cities moving forward with the panic buttons. Lawmakers in Seattle were the first to enact a law decreeing that housekeepers be equipped with the devices last year, while Chicago passed a similar law last month.