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Hotels can offer a relaxing experience for their guests, but it can quickly become dangerous for hotel workers. Hospitality workers are most likely to experience sexual harassment on the job when looking at sexual abuse charges by industry. Why are these workers most at risk? The industry is primarily female, with 70% women employees. Given that half of American women have experienced sexual harassment at work, it’s not surprising that so many hotel workers are victims of sexual abuse. 

One risk factor is that employees are often tasked to be alone with hotel guests without any other staffers present, making it easier for bad actors to violate employees. Another risk factor to consider is that immigrants make up a significant portion of the workforce. Some of these workers are undocumented and fear that reporting the crime could affect their legal status.

Workplace sexual abuse is pervasive across the hotel industry, and hotels of all sizes have faced sexual harassment accusations. Landmark Los Angeles hotel Chateau Marmont faced sexual misconduct accusations in early 2021, with employees alleging they experienced inappropriate treatment from guests with superiors who didn’t take the complaints seriously. 

Hotel workers aren’t the only ones at risk — guests also experience sexual abuse. In 2014, a New Jersey woman was assaulted by another guest after employees gave him access to her room. 

A 2016 survey of hospitality workers in Chicago found startling statistics about workplace sexual harassment. Here are a few quick statistics that show how prevalent the issue is.

  • 49% of housekeepers have had a guest be naked, expose themselves, or flash them
  • Only 1 in 3 hospitality workers chose to report sexual harassment after unwelcome sexual advances
  • 56% of women didn’t feel safe returning to work after workplace sexual harassment or assault
  • Most hospitality workers say they haven’t received training from their employers about handling sexual abuse  

How Hotels Can Create A Safer Work Environment 

What responsibility does hotel management have when it comes to sexual assault and harassment? There are a few changes that could make a huge difference. First, hotels should ban guests who have committed any kind of sexual abuse from ever staying at the property again. This action can help employees feel more comfortable about reporting sexual harassment without fear of retaliation. Hotels should also reassure employees who report coworkers of sexual abuse that they won’t lose their jobs or face revenge for stepping forward. 

Another option for hotels to consider: Giving staff members panic buttons. The survey mentioned above found that an overwhelming majority of housekeepers would feel safer with a panic button to page for help. While some local and state governments require hotels to implement these features, most do not. 

New Jersey is one of the states with hotel regulations to help prevent sexual abuse. Hotels, inns, and motels with more than 100 guest rooms are required to provide panic buttons for employees. When an employee pushes the button, a manager or security officer is required to respond promptly. Hotels that don’t comply can face fines up to $10,000. 

In Chicago, hotels are required to provide panic buttons and comprehensive sexual harassment training. And in Seattle, panic buttons are also mandatory. While these ordinances are encouraging, more cities and states need to put these rules into place.  

The attorneys at D’Arcy Johnson Day are experienced in handling workplace sexual abuse cases. We are here to help workers who are victims of sexual abuse in New Jersey and beyond. Contact us online for a free, confidential case consultation regarding a potential lawsuit, or call us toll-free at (866) 327-2952.


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