Los Angeles Hotel Workers Seek Panic Buttons Amid Sexual Assault Incidents

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Los Angeles Housekeepers & Hotel Workers Call for Panic Buttons to Prevent Sexual Assaults

Los Angeles Housekeepers & Hotel Workers Call for Panic Buttons to Prevent Sexual Assaults

May 24, 2022

Los Angeles hotel workers have submitted a petition seeking to increase pay as well as improve workplace safety conditions, specifically concerning sexual assaults. The L.A. City Clerk confirmed last week that the “Workplace Security, Workload, Wage and Retention Measures for Hotel Workers” petition has received enough raw signatures to move to the verification stage of the process, according to a CBS Los Angeles report.

Organizers are required to collect at least 61,076 signatures which must be verified by the city clerk. Once verified, the proposed ordinance will then go before the L.A. City Council, which has three options:

  • Adopt the ordinance
  • Call for a special election
  • Add the ordinance to the next regular city election

As a report from The Guardian noted, “In the wake of the #MeToo movement, hotel workers have been fighting for hotels to provide workers with panic buttons to protect them from sexual harassment and assault on the job.

If implemented, the “Workplace Security, Workload, Wage and Retention Measures for Hotel Workers” ballot initiative would mandate that all hotels in Los Angeles utilize panic buttons and have a dedicated security guard on-site to respond to any emergency calls from workers.

A similar ordinance designed to protect hotel workers from sexual assault was recently passed in Sacramento. Other California cities which have reportedly enacted ordinances requiring hotel employers to provide employees with panic buttons and other protections include:

  • Oakland
  • Long Beach
  • West Hollywood
  • Santa Monica

In addition to instituting panic buttons for hotel and hospitality workers, the proposed ordinance would mandate the following:

  • Hotels with more than 45 rooms would have to pay wage premiums when giving workloads that exceed specified limits, and receive written consent from workers who work more than 10 hours a day (exemptions would be given to hotels that demonstrate economic hardship).
  • The current minimum wage requirements would be extended and apply to hotels with 60 rooms or more (currently such requirements only apply to hotels with 150 or more rooms).

The employees pursuing the initiative – non-union workers and others represented by Unite Here Local 11 – have worked since late January to gather the 61,000 signatures needed to qualify the Hotel Worker Protection Initiative for the November ballot, according to a Los Angeles Daily News report.

The hospitality workers have secured more than 100,000 signatures for the initiative, according to a union spokesperson.

We hope they will just adopt the ordinance outright,” Unite Here spokeswoman, Maria Hernandez, said to the Daily News.

Guardian Report Details Countless Sexual Assault Incidents Involving Hotel Workers

The May 20 report from The Guardian included multiple examples of Los Angeles hotel and hospitality workers who have been impacted by sexual assault while on the job. One such worker, Sonia Molina Sanchez, was reportedly employed as housekeeper at the well-known hotel Chateau Marmont for 10 years.

She described an incident where a panic button could have been utilized:

I knocked on a guest’s door and went inside, and as soon as I went inside something didn’t feel right,” Molina Sanchez told The Guardian. “The guest was lying in bed as if he was about to go to sleep. I turned around and looked at him, and when I looked at him he was staring at me while masturbating. I felt violated, really disturbed, and just completely in shock.

She reported the incident to her management, but nothing was done, according to The Guardian. Moreover, the guest was reportedly permitted to continue staying at the hotel.

Had I had a panic button back then, I would have been able to press it to get the help that I needed. But I didn’t have it, [because] it wasn’t offered to me,” Molina Sanchez added.

Another hotel worker, Martha Moran, was a housekeeper at Chateau Marmont for 33 years, according to The Guardian. While she is still waiting to be recalled back to her job and has a pending claim against the hotel over a statewide recall ordinance, she described her own sexual harassment incident at work.

I had an experience where a guest tried to take advantage of me, tried to hug me, kiss me, get me to sleep with him. Having the protection of what a panic button would offer is necessary,” Moran told The Guardian. “It’s been increasingly difficult for me to get through the pandemic. I gave 33 years of my life to that hotel.”

A spokesperson for Chateau Marmont told The Guardian that the hotel “currently provides panic buttons to housekeepers,” but did not specify when they first started being utilized. Additionally, the spokesperson said the hotel “already adheres to most of what is proposed in the ballot initiative.”

We do not tolerate mistreatment of our employees and take all claims of harassment seriously,” a Chateau Marmont spokesperson indicated via email to The Guardian.

What is the Los Angeles Hotel Worker Protection Initiative?

According to the Los Angeles Daily News, the initiative’s proposed panic button would offer the following protections to hotel workers:

  • Ensure that any hotel employee who is assigned to work alone in a guest room or restroom facility would be given a panic button to use in the event of trouble.
  • When activated, the device would provide immediate contact between the worker and hotel security or a manager or supervisor designated to respond to violent or threatening conduct.
  • The worker could leave the immediate area and wait for assistance before activating the device and would not be subject to any form of discipline unless they intentionally made a false claim of emergency.

How Common is Hotel and Hospitality Worker Sexual Assault?

How Common is Hotel and Hospitality Worker Sexual Assault?

A 2018 report from The Guardian detailed troubling findings from a hospitality industry survey. According to The Guardian:

Workers in bars, restaurants, clubs, and hotels face a barrage of abuse so common it has become entirely normalized, with the vast majority of workers subjected to sexual harassment.

Moreover, The Guardian’s report confirmed that preliminary research gathered from said survey found that 89% of hospitality workers had experienced one or more incidents of sexual harassment in their working life.

“Testimony from workers suggests sexual harassment is happening in plain sight, with many employers accused of failing to protect staff from regular abuse,” according to The Guardian.

The Not on the Menu survey conducted by Unite Union also conformed the following hotel and hospitality worker sexual assault statistics:

  • 56.3% of workers said they had been targeted by a member of the public.
  • 22.7% of workers said they had been harassed by a manager.
  • At least half of workers who had been harassed said the experience made them want to leave their job and made them feel unsafe and less confident at work.

What Can I Do if I’ve Been Sexually Assaulted as a Hotel Worker?

If you’ve been sexually assaulted as a Los Angeles hotel or hospitality worker, filing a civil claim can be a means of recovering deserved financial compensation for various damages. Hotel worker sexual assault claim damages may include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Counseling or therapy expenses
  • Hospital or medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Emotional or psychological trauma
  • Punitive damages (not capped in California)

Dordulian Law Group’s (DLG) hotel worker sexual assault and harassment lawyers are dedicated to fighting aggressively on behalf of all clients to secure any applicable financial damages through a maximum cash settlement or verdict.

To discuss your hospitality worker sexual assault claim with a dedicated DLG attorney, contact us today at 818-322-4056 for a free, confidential, and no obligation consultation.

Free Los Angeles Hotel & Hospitality Worker Sexual Assault Lawyer Consultation

DLG is led by Sam Dordulian, a former sex crimes prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County. As a premier California-based sexual assault and abuse firm serving survivors across the nation, DLG offers a unique four-tiered representation structure known as the SAJE Team.

With SAJE (Sexual Assault Justice Experts), all survivors have access to:

  • Two in-house victim advocates
  • A licensed in-house clinical therapist
  • A retired LAPD sex crimes detective
  • An experienced litigator with more than 100 jury trial victories

Our sexual assault lawyers have helped countless survivors secure maximum financial damages awards. Some of our recent sexual assault lawsuit victories include:

Our Sexual Assault Justice Experts are here to help survivors secure justice. Contact our top-rated attorneys online or by phone for a free consultation today.

At DLG, our dedication and aggressive advocacy on behalf of sexual assault survivors is evident through our proven results. For a free and confidential consultation regarding your hotel or hospitality worker sexual assault lawsuit, contact a member of DLG’s SAJE Team today at 818-322-4056.

Why Choose Dordulian Law Group?

Our sex crime attorneys have secured more than $100,000,000 in settlements and verdicts for sexual assault survivors while maintaining a 98% success record. When you’re ready to take the first step towards obtaining justice on your own terms following a hotel sexual assault or harassment incident, we’re here to fight tirelessly on your behalf.


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