New York City hotels promise employees panic buttons

Queens state Assemblyman Rory Lancman holds up a sample panic button outside the hotel where a maid accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of rape last year. The charges were later dropped.

New York City hotels agreed to give their employees panic buttons under a new contract presented Tuesday.

The agreement presented to hotel housekeepers and employees ensures that they will each get a personal panic button. The buttons can fit in the palm of a hand, in a pocket or worn around the neck on a lanyard.

With one push, it would immediately summon security help, said Eric Walker, a spokesman for Queens state assemblyman Rory Lancman, who introduced a bill last year pushing for panic buttons.

“It’s unfortunate but there are instances when guests behave inappropriately,” John Turchiano, spokesperson for the New York Hotel Trades Council, told Reuters. “This would be a really good way to cut down on that and give our members strong protections.”

The case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn highlighted the issue of maids in potential danger, but Walker said hotel employees faced trouble long before.

Metro interviewed hotel maids who said that stories of naked guests and screaming drunks are unfortunately all-too familiar.

One Flushing maid, who has worked at a Manhattan hotel for 15 years, told Metro a man once charged into a bathroom she was cleaning, asking, “You don’t mind?”

He dropped his trousers and started urinating before she could answer.

“It didn’t change the fact that they were in danger before that,” Walker said of the DSK case. “When there’s a higher-profile news story, it might focus people’s attention on a problem that is already there.”


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