Unless you’ve been working double shifts at your job or avoiding the media altogether, you have heard about the #MeToo movement.

Although it has become more prominent with the Twitter hashtag, sexual harassment is more than just social media hype… And it has been a problem for hotel workers for quite some time.

Consider the following stats from UNITE HERE, a labor union whose members primarily work in hospitality:

• Local 1 found that 58% of hotel workers in Chicago had been harassed by guests. Specifically, 49% of housekeepers had been victims of guests exposing themselves, and 65% of casino cocktail servers had been groped or grabbed. (Hands Off, Pants On)

• In Seattle, 53% of surveyed housekeepers indicated that they had experienced some form of harassment. (NPR)

• In a survey by Local 355, 63% of 70+ hotel workers in Miami Beach said they had been sexually assaulted or harassed while working in guestrooms. (Miami Herald)

Sexual Harassment Graphic

Although sex discrimination and sexual harassment are already unlawful, Chicago, Seattle and Miami Beach, as well as California and New York, have passed more stringent laws to address harassment. The new legislation requires enhanced training, as well as the establishment of sexual harassment prevention policies. Some laws also require panic buttons for hotel housekeeping staff. Provided by companies like TraknProtect, these buttons utilize real-time location technology that alert staff of their location so help can be dispatched immediately if an incident occurs. New Jersey has passed a bill requiring hotels with 100 or more rooms to provide cleaners and employees with a panic button for emergency situations. It is the first state in the nation to do so. How many more states will follow in this wave of awareness?

Municipalities have responded, but what about the hospitality industry itself? Isn’t that where the responsibility for mandatory sexual harassment prevention education and panic buttons should lie? According to Katherine Lugar, president and chief executive of the American Hotel and Lodging Association, “Protecting our employees and the millions of guests who stay in our hotels each day is of paramount importance to the industry.” (Reuters) Major hotel chains like Marriott International Inc. and Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. have recognized the need and are now providing employees panic buttons to fight sexual harassment and crime at their U.S. properties. Other hoteliers like Wyndham Hotels & Resorts Inc. and Hyatt Hotels Corp. will be implementing protective devices soon.

Required education is often the catalyst for change. VENZA understands this and has partnered with renowned law firm Arnall Golden Gregory for more than 5 years to provide interactive, scenario-based sexual harassment prevention training for hoteliers. This training is part of the VENZA HR Suite and includes courses for managers and employees, as well as a sexual harassment policy and breakroom posters. Other topics covered within the HR Suite include diversity and guest relations, acceptable use, anti-bribery, code of conduct and human trafficking.

VENZA has also partnered with Chicago-based TraknProtect to deliver training on their panic buttons in PEAK®, VENZA’s learning portal. The goal of both companies is to protect hospitality employees, and this partnership provides hotels the assurance that they are compliant and mitigating risk, while also providing protection for their staff.

Improved safety makes a better work environment for everyone, while stronger communication and well-defined policies help to create efficient operations. This culminates in an enhanced guest experience, which is the ultimate goal for hospitality providers.

Learn more about VENZA’s HR Suite (including Sexual Harassment Prevention and Human Trafficking Awareness training) or how its partnership with TraknProtect can benefit your organization. Or contact us at

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