ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey is considering requiring most hotels to provide employees with panic buttons to summon help if they are threatened or attacked while cleaning rooms.
A bill in the Legislature would require the devices to be provided at any hotel with 25 or more rooms.
The devices are already in use at some hotels in Las Vegas, New York, Washington, Seattle and Chicago, said Bob McDevitt, head of the main Atlantic City casino workers’ union. Hotel guests harassing or making room cleaners uncomfortable is common, he said.
“Every day, incidents of harassment take place,” he said. “A hotel employee knocks on the door to clean the room and a guy answers, naked. It happens all the time.”
In February, a hotel worker at Bally’s casino in Atlantic City was pushed into a room and sexually assaulted.
“It is necessary that we ensure hotel employees are never subject to these situations,” said Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, an Atlantic City-area Democrat. “Requiring them to have panic buttons on their person will help to make our employees feel less alone and, most importantly, less afraid to work on their own, especially if the room they are servicing is occupied.”
The devices are to be provided at no cost to the employees.
The response by the hotel industry to such proposals has been largely supportive. In Las Vegas, MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment are already offering the devices to workers, as do several hotel properties in New York City. Last month, the CEOs of Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott and Wyndham joined the American Hotel & Lodging Association to provide panic buttons for workers, as well as other safety measures to protect them.
Atlantic City has yet to adopt such measures.
“We’re expected by management to have a ‘the guest is always right’ mentality,” said Nolan Aquin, a housekeeper at the Borgata casino hotel. “Too often this comes at the cost of my own comfort and safety. I have had to feel unsafe while performing basic duties of my job knowing that there were no other workers around me.”
The bill was introduced last month and has yet to be considered by Assembly or Senate committees.
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