On June 11, Gov. Phil Murphy, D-N.J., signed into law legislation that will require hotels that have 100 or more guest rooms to provide their housekeepers and room service employees with panic buttons effective January 2020. Panic buttons have gained widespread attention as a result of the #MeToo movement – the idea being that a housekeeper is isolated from other employees and an easy target for sexual harassment and assault. Recently several pieces of legislation have been introduced that would require the provision of the buttons. Some cities (such as Chicago and Seattle) have already passed similar measures, and some hotel chains have voluntarily agreed to provide panic buttons, regardless of local laws. Hotels in New Jersey will no longer have the choice, and failure to comply with the new law will result in fines.
In addition to requiring panic buttons, the law also requires that hotels keep records regarding accusations it receives of inappropriate conduct by guests, and provide notice to other hotel employees assigned to a room where a guest’s behavior has caused an employee to use the panic button. The law also requires hotels to maintain and distribute policies to their employees and guests regarding the panic buttons.
If you have questions about this new law or need assistance in creating such a policy, please reach out to our Labor and Employment Group.