Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that hotel workers in the city can now ask for help thanks to "panic buttons."
A new ordinance that requires hotels to have the buttons has taken effect this week. The said ordinance would help over 15,000 housekeeping staff, most of them female, and people who work to clean and restock rooms, from crimes and sexual harassment.
Mayor Emanuel said that everyone who is employed in Chicago deserves a secure, empowering, and safe working environment where they could do their job.
He added that people who are willing to speak about their past experiences, as well as those who do hurt in silence, moved him to work not just for respect for them, but also for efforts that would prevent, prohibit, and punish harassment when it occurs.
The said ordinance makes it crystal clear that sexual harassment is not only inappropriate but most of all, illegal.
Sexual Harassment Cases In Chicago Hotels
The ordinance was sponsored by Michelle Harris, alderman of Chicago's 8th ward and the chair of the Chicago City Council's rules committee, and the UNITE HERE Local 1. It requires hotels in the city to keep a button that would allow its workers to call for help if they are being harassed or sexually assaulted by a guest.
A survey by UNITE HERE Local 1 found out that 58 percent of 500 workers have experienced at least one instance of sexual harassment by a guest. The most common was guests opening their door naked. President of UNITE HERE Local 1 Karen Kent said that this is a new day for women who are working in hotels.
What The Panic Buttons Does
The "panic button" sends a message to the phones of supervisors and the managers of the hotel's human resources department when it is pressed. This will benefit hotel staff who are assigned to do inventory, inspection, cleaning, or restocking of supplies in a restroom or a guest room.
Rosa Escareno, Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner, said that they have closely worked with the hotel industry to create the iconic legislation and the city of Chicago is immensely proud to be at the forefront to combat this important issue.
The commissioner added that Chicago has zero tolerance for the harassment being faced by more than half of hotel staff. The panic buttons will assure the workers that the government is listening to their problems and will protect them no matter what.