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Cities working to keep hotel employees safe

Hotel employees in Texas and throughout the nation can be vulnerable to sexual harassment on the job. However, some cities are taking steps to offer protection. In Seattle, hotel workers were given panic buttons in 2016 to use in case of an attack. Workers in New York City who are in unions have had that technology since 2013. A group called United Here has surveyed members to determine the prevalence of sexual assault among housekeepers.

In Seattle, 53 percent of housekeepers who took part in the survey said that they had been harassed while working. Groping, guests exposing themselves to housekeepers and cornering them while in a room were among the most common complaints that they had. Both verbal and physical harassment were described as issues that they had experienced as well. The #MeToo movement is being partially credited with raising awareness about sexual harassment in the service industry.

While workers think that the use of panic buttons will help keep them safer, the American Hotel & Lodging Association filed a legal challenge against Seattle's ordinance. The group also cited the expense of the buttons that can cost thousands of dollars for a fancy unit. However, workers say that these buttons will make it easier to report harassment, which could cut down on the power imbalance between workers and guests.

Those who are victims of workplace harassment may wish to take legal action against their employers. It is important to note that an employer may be liable in a harassment case even if the offender was a guest or customer. An attorney may be able to help a worker verify that an incident took place by reviewing video footage or gathering statements from workers.

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