Hotel Industry Commits to Increasing Employees' Safety

AHLA members have committed to providing U.S. hotel workers with portable panic buttons and implementing better policies, training, and resources aimed at hotel worker safety. U.S. hotels aim to have full implementation of panic buttons at all properties by 2020.

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and the major hotel brands in its membership announced Sept. 5 the 5-Star Promise, a commitment to increasing safety for hotel employees. The members have committed to providing U.S. hotel workers with portable panic buttons and implementing better policies, training, and resources aimed at hotel worker safety.

Portable panic buttons, also referred to as employee safety devices (ESDs), allow employees to alert security personnel if they feel they are in danger. Cities including Chicago and Seattle already have made it mandatory for employers to provide ESDs for hotel workers, in light of recent conversations in the media highlighting the ongoing problem of sexual harassment and assault.

"The panic buttons, or safety buttons, are useful in that they are a real-time lifeline for women who work alone. It can be used in the case of a sexual assault or harassment, and in other dangerous situations, like if a worker finds a guest who has highly dangerous or illegal materials in their hotel room," said Rachel Gumpert, national press secretary for UNITE HERE, a labor union representing the rights of hospitality workers.

U.S. hotels aim to have full implementation of panic buttons at all properties by 2020. Because hotel sizes and layouts vary, the AHLA has organized a special task force to decide on the best devices and technology to deploy at each hotel. In addition to ESDs, major hotel brands will be providing employees with ongoing education and training on sexual harassment. Anti-sexual harassment policies will be displayed in multiple languages.

"Safety is a never-ending challenge, and the hotel industry is highly committed to be part of the solution. Protecting our employees—as well the millions of guests who stay in American hotel rooms each day—is critically important to our industry," AHLA President and CEO Katherine Lugar said. "Unfortunately, no industry is immune to dealing with sexual harassment, but we will continue to work, day in and day out, so America's hotels are secure places for all those who work in and visit them."

According to AHLA, the five points of the 5-Star Promise reads as follows:

  • Build on the industry's longstanding commitment to hospitality and a People Culture. AHLA will continue providing industry-wide training and materials on safety and security matters and retain expert guidance, such as Tina Tchen, a partner at Buckley Sandler LLP and co-founder of the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund, to work with AHLA and its members on workplace diversity and safety matters.
  • Ensure mandatory anti-sexual harassment policies are in place in multiple languages.
  • Provide ongoing training and education for employees on identifying and reporting sexual harassment.
  • Provide U.S. hotel employees with employee safety devices to help them feel safe on the job.
  • Broaden vital partnerships with wide-ranging national organizations that target sexual violence and assault and trafficking and promote workplace safety, including the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV), End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT-USA), and Polaris.

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