Miami Beach could be the next town to promote usage of handheld panic buttons for hotel workers. Following the example of other cities, including Chicago and Seattle, hotel workers could be provided with an alarm for protection against sexual harassment and assaults. The proposal aims to introduce a portable panic button that will be connected to the hotel security system. In case of an assault or harassment, the push of the button will inform the security about the attack and will allow them act as expected.
Although sexual harassment and assault has always existed, now people speak about it louder than before. This issue has been put under the carpet for very long, but now many sexually harassed people raised their voice against predators. The #MeToo movement obviously encouraged many victims to speak out about things they’ve been silent about for various reasons. It added fuel to the smothered fire, making changes imminent. Panic buttons for hotel workers are just one of the changes that must be addressed.
Miami hotel workers understand that sexual harassment is very common in their everyday work. Acts vary from seemingly innocent compliments to massage requests and open sex requests. Hotel workers live under stress that the next guest they meet might behave inappropriately. Being mostly women and working alone are not the only reasons why hotel workers are particularly vulnerable to harassment.
A study by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has found that the root causes for this include significant power disparities; client’s alcohol consumption; reliance on customer satisfaction; and language differences. And this is an industry where the client is always right, discouraging workers from reporting sexual harassment cases as often as they happen.
Hands Off – Pants On
A Unite Here survey of hospitality workers from Chicago uncovers the real numbers. From the labor union, they asked around 500 workers from the hotel and casino industry in Chicago area, mainly Asian and Latino immigrants, about the sexual harassment they suffer at work. The results in the “Hands Off – Pants On” report proved something that everyone already knows, but refused to see:
- 58% of hotel workers and 77% of casino workers have been harassed by a guest,
- Nearly 40% of all of them have been pressured to go on a date by a guest.
- 56% of workers who had reported harassment didn’t feel safe at work afterward.
For these reasons, Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, a Miami Beach Commissioner, has proposed the new ordinance requiring the issuance of panic buttons for hotel workers in Miami Beach. She says that men’s behavior has to be changed, and once they know workers are armed with panic button, they would think twice before carrying out their evil acts.
Hotel Industry Opposes
The hotel industry opposes the use of panic buttons by hotel employees. According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), the panic button regulations are proposed just to make the way for many other regulations that would burden hotel managements, such as higher minimum wages and caps on workers’ workloads. They think that protection is not the initiative’s real focus, but it’s just a tool that will bring workers closer to increasing other rights.
In support of this argument, AHLA draws attention to an ordinance passed in Seattle in November 2017. Although the changes came as a reaction to the anger against sexual harassment, it promoted other measures such as obligating hotels to help pay off hotel workers’ health insurance and capping workload to prevent injuries. AHLA wants to avoid being outplayed again. They believe that their procedures and protocols about sexual harassment reporting are sufficient to fight against this rising issue.
The hotel industry wants to avoid keeping logs from problematic guests as well. They argue that the housekeeper could accidentally enter a guest room while he is leaving the shower, and push the panic button even though the guest had no intention of harassing her sexually. From then on, hotels will have to keep records of that guest, turning this into a witch hunt they don’t want to be involved in. Of course, such actions against hotel clients would likely have a negative effect on the hotel industry’s bottom line.
The Future of Panic Buttons
It’s obvious that this fight is not only for the panic buttons and tackling sexual predators’ behavior. Unions are riding on the wave of anger about nationwide sexual harassment and now want to take advantage of that in negotiations for better deals for workers. However, Miami and Florida hotel workers’ and guests’ safety must come first. Sexual harassment and assaults have happened unnoticed or unreported for a very long time, and a reasonable solution is more than needed. Time will show whether panic buttons are that solution.
Miami Personal Injury Lawyers Helping Sexual Assault and Harrassment Victims
If you were sexually harassed or were the victim of a sexual assault at a hotel in Miami, Miami Beach or anywhere in Florida, then you should reach out to our Miami personal injury attorneys.
At Wolfson & Leon, our Miami injury lawyers can discuss your options and answer your questions just like we have for victims of negligence and intentional, criminal acts since 1963. No matter what – don’t be a silent victim. You owe it to yourself to get the justice you deserve. Additionally, by not remaining a silent victim, you can help prevent future assaults or harassment by the person or persons who harmed you.
Call us today for your free consultation at (305) 285-1115 and allow us the opportunity to help you.