It has not been a good month for hotel housekeepers. Two high-profile assaults on housekeepers in the last month has prompted discussion about how hotels can better protect their staff.
The first incident took place on May 14 at the Sofitel Hotel, where Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the then-leader of the International Monetary Fund, has been accused of assaulting a maid on May 14, reported The New York Times. And on May 29, Mahmoud Abdel Salam Omar, a businessman and former chairman of a major Egyptian bank, allegedly attacked at housekeeper at The Pierre Hotel in New York, reported the Huffington Post.
"The problem of hotel maids being inappropriately groped or propositioned has been known for a long time," said Rory Lancman, a New York state assemblyman from Queens. "They need to have as much protection as possible, and that means equipment and that means policies that protect them."
Lancman, who heads the assembly's subcommittee on workplace issues, filed a bill last month that would require hotels to give single-button alert devices to any employees who regularly enter guest rooms. The Hotel Association of New York City, which represents about 200 hotel owners, said it was studying the proposal.
The union said it will call for such devices as part of its contract negotiations with 150 hotels next year, and a state legislator has proposed a bill requiring the devices statewide.
However, as all security professionals know, there's no single solution to a problem. Training is obviously an important component. In the most recent assault, the hotel waited 15 hours to report the incident and we know that can't be their policy. I'm a personal fan of defense classes and think that approach can never hurt. In terms of the technology, the article also notes that it's important for these devices to be small and inconspicuous so that an assailant cannot remove them easily. They also must include a locating device that works indoors so security guards can find an employee in trouble.
Do you know of any hotels who are deploying such a system? Has it been effective?