Governor signs bill to protect hotel and motel workers, requires panic buttons

Governor signs bill to protect hotel and motel workers, requires panic buttons https://wahospitality.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/shutterstock_225103282.jpg

OLYMPIA, Wash. –  On Monday, May 13, Gov. Jay Inslee signed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5258, preventing the sexual harassment and sexual assault of certain isolated workers, into law. The Washington Hospitality Association supported this bill throughout the legislative process and is supportive of the new law.

“I think this legislation will help hundreds of employees in the hospitality industry avoid sexual harassment,” said the bill’s prime sponsor, Senator Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines. “Having the Washington Hospitality Association as an active partner helped to make it a better bill.”

Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5258 requires that every hotel, motel, retail, security guard entity or property services contract employer must adopt a sexual harassment policy and provide mandatory training to the employer’s managers, supervisors and employees to prevent sexual assault, harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Additional protections in the bill include workforce education about anti-retaliation measures for employees who report violations, a list of resources for employees, and a panic button for each employee who spends a majority of their time working alone. In the hospitality industry, this includes hotel or motel housekeepers, or room service attendants.

“Employee health, safety and security is a top priority,” said Anthony Anton, president and CEO of the Washington Hospitality Association. “We prioritized this statewide legislation this year as part of our commitment to our employees.”

The increased awareness and promotion of employee safety aligns with the 5-Star Promise, a pledge led by the American Hotel & Lodging Association and 17 of the largest, national hotel brands. The 5-Star Promise is a pledge to hotel employees across the U.S. to expand implementation of employee safety devices by 2020 and a commitment to enhanced policies, training and resources that increase hotel safety.

Hotels and motels with 60 or more rooms must meet the requirements of the bill by Jan. 1, 2020. All other businesses must meet the requirements laid out in the bill by Jan. 1, 2021.