Hotel Worker 'Panic Button' Law Takes Effect Sunday

Jim Gudas
July 01, 2018 - 11:54 am

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A Chicago ordinance that takes effect Sunday gives some hotel workers in the city added protection.

The ordinance requires hotels to equip housekeeping staff with panic buttons, so they can immediately notify security if they are in trouble.

Karen Kent of Unite Here, the union representing hospitality workers, said the ordinance was inspired in part by a union survey in which about half of the women who work in housekeeping in the Chicago-area said they encountered guests or others who exposed themselves.

Artwork to promote awareness about the panic button ordinance will be in bus shelters around downtown Chicago.

Hotel workers, labor leaders and city officials who fought for two years to require that all Chicago hotels equip housekeepers working alone with a panic button to help protect them from sexual harassment and assault gathered Sunday at Plumbers Hall to  mark the day the law went into full effect. The law came about after surveys revealed that over 50 percent of hotel workers had experienced sexual harassment from a guest. The law is referred to as the “Hands Off Pants On” panic button system.

Attendees rang bells and musical triangles to “ring in” a new day for women working in Chicago hotels and honor all those who have broken the silence around sexual harassment. Large-scale artwork to promote awareness about the panic button legislation will be unveiled in advance of installation in bus shelters around downtown Chicago.