Chicago Hotels to Provide Panic Buttons for Workers

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

By: Ashmar Mandou

The Hotel Workers Sexual Harassment Ordinance went into effect requiring all hotels in Chicago to provide panic buttons for hotel housekeeping staff assigned to work alone. The measure is designed to provide protection to the more than 15,000 hospitality workers, most of them female and many of whom are minority, who clean and restock the city’s hotel rooms. The ordinance, sponsored by Ald. Michelle Harris (8th) and UNITE HERE Local 1, requires hotels to provide portable buttons that would allow employees to instantly summon help if they are sexually assaulted or harassed by a guest. When the “panic button” is pressed, a message will instantaneously go to the cellphones of supervisors, managers or the organization’s human resources department. The panic button is now required for all employees who are assigned to clean, inventory, inspect or restock supplies in a guest room or rest room under circumstances where no other employee is present in such room.

“We have worked closely with the hospitality industry to create this groundbreaking legislation, and Chicago is proud to be at the forefront of this important issue,” said Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Rosa Escareno. “The City has zero tolerance for the kind of harassment and misbehavior that’s being reported by more than half of the hotel staff that cleans and restocks guest rooms. These panic buttons let workers know we are listening and they are not alone: we really do have their backs.” The ordinance was developed as a result of complaints by hotel employees: in a 2016 survey of 500 workers, 58 percent reported they had experienced at least one incident of sexual harassment by guests, which could include sexually suggestive looks or gestures, as well as being pressured for dates or sexual favors. Said Kimmie, a Chicago hotel housekeeper, “I’m proud that we spoke out together and won protections for women across the city. We deserve to work without fear. This panic button makes me feel safer. Knowing we have the support of my union and the City means I won’t be afraid to speak out if something happens.” The panic buttons are part of hotel-wide security system that would cost approximately $100 per room and is able to track the employee by name and hotel room location. For more information, visit or call (312) 744-2086.

Comments are closed.