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Sexual Abuse in the Hospitality Industry

Sexual assault in hotels and motels has become an issue of concern for both employees and other guests. Reports of guests and employees being victimized in hotel rooms raises questions about whether hotels are implementing proper safety and training measures. In one news report, a woman on a business trip was sexually assaulted by another guest who obtained a key to her room from the front desk without even showing identification. The victim has demanded accountability by the hotel for failing to follow procedures to adequately protect guests from harm.

Guests are not the only individuals facing sexual harassment in hotels and motels- housekeepers are increasingly the victims of sexual assault by guests. The threat of sexual assault against housekeepers in hotels has led several states to enact laws requiring hoteliers to install panic buttons for housekeepers. New Jersey recently passed a similar law requiring all hotels in the state with more than 100 guest rooms to provide employees with a free panic button device. The law provides that an employee who activates the panic button under a reasonable belief that she is in danger of being sexually assaulted may exit the room and await assistance without adverse consequences to her employment status. The New Jersey law will take effect in January 2020.

The plight of hotel maids is representative of a larger problem of sexual assault against various low wage workers. Employees at a number of large-chain establishments, including Walmart, McDonald’s and Marriott, allege that their companies have done little to protect employees from sexual abuse and workplace harassment. Many housekeepers who have encountered sexually abusive behaviors while cleaning rooms claim that hotel management simply ignore their complaints, thereby creating a hostile work environment. Some of these workers, including several women employed by Marriott as housekeepers, have filed lawsuits against the corporation.

Hotels can be found liable for assault by a hotel employee particularly when the hotel knew or should have known that the employee should not have been hired due to his background or personal history or the hotel fails to properly instruct or train the employee. A hotel can be liable for an assault by a guest if it fails to adequately protect its staff from sexual misconduct. Under the laws recently passed in New York, New Jersey, and other states, victims of sexual assault may file claims against their perpetrators and the institutions that failed to protect them for a specified amount of time without regard to when the abuse took place.

Levy Konigsberg LLP is a nationally recognized law firm that has recovered millions of dollars in settlements for victims of sexual abuse. If you or a member of your family has been the victim of sexual misconduct as a guest or employee of a hotel, motel, or other lodging, please contact our lawyers for a free consultation by calling (800) 315-3806 or submit an email inquiry.

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