The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors has approved an Ordinance requiring hotel and motel operators in Sacramento County to provide employees with a panic button or notification device that can be used to call for help when an employee reasonably believes sexual harassment activity is occurring in the employee’s presence. The panic button is designed to be used in emergency situations to summon hotel security or other appropriate staff to the employee’s location.

The Ordinance, officially titled The Sacramento County Hotel Worker Protection Act of 2018, requires panic buttons be provided to each employee who works in guest rooms at no cost to the employees.  It also requires affected hotels and motels to develop, maintain, and comply with a written sexual harassment policy.  The sexual harassment policy must be designed to encourage employees to immediately report instances of alleged sexual assault and sexual harassment by guests to the hotel licensee.  The policy must also describe the procedures that the complaining employee and the hotel are to follow when instances of sexual assault or sexual harassment arise.

The Ordinance only applies to hotels and motels subject to licensure in the unincorporated area of Sacramento County with 25 or more rooms. This is estimated to effect 24 hotels and motels, or approximately seventy-five percent, of Sacramento County’s existing licensed hotels and motels.

A similar Bill, AB 1761, was introduced to the California Legislature in January 2018. This Bill would require hotel employers state-wide to provide employees with a panic button to call for assistance when working alone in a guest room.  The Bill would also require a hotel employer to compile and maintain a list of guests who have been alleged to have committed an act of violence or harassment against employees at that hotel, and to decline service to any person on that list for a period of three years.  If this Bill were approved, it would make California the first state in the Nation to have a state-wide law requiring hotels to provide panic buttons to employees that work alone in guest rooms.

If you have any questions about this case, please contact Cary Palmer or Kaitlyn Lavaroni in Jackson Lewis’ Sacramento office, or the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you regularly work.