Last October, we wrote about a Chicago ordinance requiring hotel employers to, among other things, equip hotel employees assigned to work in guestrooms or restrooms with portable emergency contact devices. The ordinance took effect July 1, 2018. Hotel employers in Chicago should ensure compliance with the mandates of the ordinance as penalties may reach $500 for each offense. Each day a violation continues is deemed a new offense.

Shortly after the Chicago City Council approved the ordinance, AB 1761 was introduced in the California Assembly on January 4, 2018. The bill passed the Assembly and now awaits further consideration in the Senate. Similar to the Chicago ordinance, the California bill would require hotel employers to provide its employees with a panic button in order to summon immediate assistance when working alone in a guestroom.

The California legislation would also require hotel employers to post a notice on the back of each guestroom door with the heading, “The Law Protects Hotel Housekeepers and Other Employees from Sexual Assault and Harassment.” Additionally, if an employee informs the hotel employer that the employee has been subjected to an act of violence, sexual assault or sexual harassment by a guest, then the hotel employer is required to: (1) provide the employee with paid time off to contact law enforcement, seek legal relief, contact an attorney, or seek medical treatment, counseling or other services; (2) provide reasonable accommodations to the employee, including but not limited to, transfer, reassignment, modified schedule, or any other reasonable adjustment to a job structure, workplace facility or work requirement; (3) report the act committed against the employee to law enforcement upon request of the employee; and (4) investigate reports of workplace harassment and take appropriate corrective actions.

For purposes of the California bill, “employee” is defined as an individual who, in any particular workweek, performs at least two hours of work for a hotel employer. “Hotel employer” is defined as hotel, motel, bed and breakfast inn, or similar transient lodging establishment.

We will continue to monitor the California legislation as it works its way through the Senate.