New Jersey becomes first state to require panic buttons for hotel workers

New Jersey becomes first state to require panic buttons for hotel workers

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed a bill on Tuesday that requires most of the state’s hotels to give their workers wearable panic buttons that they can press to get help in an emergency.

The law, which is set to take effect in January, will apply to hotels that have at least 100 rooms.

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“We must protect the safety of workers in the hospitality industry,” Murphy said in a written release. “This new law will ensure that hotel employees performing their duties will have the means to summon immediate assistance if they are in danger.”

Murphy’s signature follows a 2018 incident in which a cleaner at Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel and Casino was sexually assaulted when a man pushed her into one of the hotel’s rooms, The Associated Press reports. On Tuesday, the governor was joined by housekeepers from Atlantic City’s nine casinos as he signed the bill.

Murphy and several nationwide unions claim New Jersey is the first state to require such devices, which are also being considered in Illinois, Washington and Florida, the AP reports.

State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D), one of the bill’s chief sponsors, said “no one should ever have to work in fear.”

“The isolating nature of hotel employees servicing private rooms, puts them in a uniquely vulnerable position,” she said in the release. “A panic device to communicate to authorities outside of the room in the case of harassment and assault, will go a long way to ensuring their safety, security and workplace wellbeing.”

In February, Murphy signed “Alyssa’s Law,” named for a New Jersey native who died in the Parkland, Fla., shooting, that requires the state’s public schools to install panic alarms, which will silently inform law enforcement when there’s a life-threatening or emergency situation.