Industry Update
External Article12 November 2018

Hotels See Panic Buttons as a #MeToo Solution for Workers. Guest Bans? Not So Fast.

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The hotel industry is betting that a simple device can help solve the complex problem of guests sexually assaulting and harassing workers.


It's known as a panic button, a small gadget that housekeepers can use to swiftly call for help. The technology takes different forms, including GPS devices that track employees as they walk through the building, buttons that emit an audible alarm and smartphone apps.

After a yearlong cascade of stories about the sexual harassment of hotel workers, questions about how to address the problem remain largely unanswered. The most popular solution, one that hotel executives and labor activists can agree on, is small enough to fit in a pocket.

Through company policy or legislation pushed by local officials, panic buttons have become increasingly widespread at hotels across the country. But the hotel industry has fiercely resisted measures that would punish the accused, saying that they would threaten guests' due process rights.

Juana Melara, a housekeeper in Southern California, believes a panic button could have gotten her out of a frightening situation several years ago when she was working in Cerritos, Calif.

Ms. Melara said she was cleaning a bathtub in a hotel room when she turned to see a guest staring at her. She asked him to leave the room and went on her break. When she returned to her housekeeping cart, she said, the man was walking in the hallway toward her with his penis pulled through his pants.

Read the full article at The New York Times