California hotels could soon have 'panic buttons' to protect workers from sexual harassment

Amid the recent wave of sexual harassment allegations in Hollywood, two California lawmakers introduced a bill that would require hotel employers to provide “panic buttons” to staff so they can summon help in potentially dangerous situations involving hotel guests.

The California bill, introduced Wednesday by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) and co-authored with Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), would be the first of its kind, according to CNBC. In addition to panic buttons, it would also require hotels to impose a three-year ban on any guest found guilty of harassment on the property.

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“We want to protect our most vulnerable women workers, hotel maids who are going into rooms alone, from sexual harassment,” Muratsuchi told the Los Angeles Times.

The bill comes after a survey in July by Unite Here Local 1, a labor union in Illinois, found that 58 percent of the 500 hotel and casino workers surveyed in Chicago had been sexually harassed by a guest. Additionally, nearly half of those workers had seen a guest open the door naked or expose themselves.

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

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Muratsuchi also hopes the bill will enable employees to speak out when they encounter sexual harassment or assault on the job. If it passes, hotels will be required to take written complaints from those employees and keep them for five years, as well as post notices inside rooms warning guests about the consequences of sexual harassment, the Times reports.  

Michelle Gant is a writer and editor for Fox News Lifestyle. Follow her on Twitter @Michelleleegant