“Hands off pants on” law aims to help hotel workers

Workers at Chicago hotels now have “panic buttons” to summon help if needed.

An ordinance called “hands off pants on” that took effect this week requires hotels to provide the buttons, which are meant to protect housekeeping staff and others who work alone in guest rooms from sexual harassment and other crimes.

Dozens of workers and union officials applauded the effort. It means more than 5,000 hotel workers who clean or workΩ by themselves, in places including guest rooms, will now have panic buttons.

A survey of 500 workers conducted by Unite Here Local 1 found that 58 percent reported experiencing at least one incident of sexual harassment by guests. The most common was guests answering their door naked. Only one-third of workers who experience such harassment report it to their manager, the survey found.

The buttons trigger a message to the cellphone of the employee’s supervisor, manager and human resources department and provide the employee’s name and location.

Karen Kent, president of Unite Here Local 1, said it’s “a new day for women working in Chicago hotels.”

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