On October 11, 2017, the Chicago City Council passed the so-called "Hands Off, Pants On" Ordinance requiring Chicago hotel employers to provide all housekeepers and restroom workers who work alone with mobile notification devises or “panic buttons” that summon hotel security or management to the employee’s location when he or she “reasonably believes that an ongoing crime, sexual harassment, sexual assault or other emergency is occurring in the employee's presence.” In passing the Ordinance, the City Council relied on, among other factors, a recent study that revealed nearly 50% of female housekeepers reported some form of sexual harassment from hotel guests. The Ordinance seeks to provide these employees with greater legal protection from sexual harassment by guests.
In addition to providing panic buttons at no cost to employees, hotel employers are required to implement a written sexual harassment policy that protects employees from sexual harassment and sexual assault by hotel guests. The policy must not only encourage employees to immediately report instances of alleged sexual assault or harassment by guests, but must also include the following elements:
- A description of the procedures the employee and the hotel should follow when reporting or receiving a complaint of sexual assault or harassment by a guest;
- Instructions to the complaining employee that he or she is permitted to cease work and leave the immediate area where the danger is perceived until hotel security or management, or members of the police department arrive to provide assistance;
- An offer of a temporary work assignment to the complaining employee until the offending guest’s hotel stay ends;
- A provision for paid time off to the complaining employee to: (i) complete a complaint with the police department against the offending guest; or (ii) testify as a witness against the offending guest resulting from a complaint;
- A notice to employees that the Illinois Human Rights Act, Chicago Human Rights Ordinance, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provide additional protection against sexual harassment in the workplace; and
- A notice to employees that retaliation is prohibited against any employee who complains of sexual assault or harassment or who uses the panic button.
The policy must but provided in English, Spanish, and Polish, and must be posted in conspicuous places in the hotel where employees are likely to see it.
If a hotel is found to commit two or more violations within a 12-month period, the hotel’s license may be suspended or revoked. Fines under the Ordinance range from $250 to $500 per offense.
Under the Ordinance, hotel employers are required to provide panic buttons by July 1, 2018 and comply with other Ordinance components by January 7, 2018.
In addition to the Ordinance discussed above, the City Council also passed another Ordinance on October 11th that requires hotels to maintain portable automated external defibrillators on-site to assists hotel guests and visitors. The Ordinance requires that:
- One defibrillator be available in the hotel’s front office if the hotel has up to 250 guest rooms;
- Two defibrillators be available in the hotel’s front office in hotels with more than 250 guest rooms;
- Defibrillators be placed on each floor within a hotel containing a banquet meeting space of at least 4,000 square feet (the defibrillators must be centrally located with signs providing directions to the defibrillator); and
- A trained defibrillator user be on staff during business hours.
Hotels are required to comply with the AED Ordinance by March 8, 2018.