Search form

Chicago Adopts ‘Hands Off Pants On’ Law to Protect Hotel Workers from Sexual Harassment, Assault

By Jody Kahn Mason and Brenna R. McLean
  • October 30, 2017

To provide hospitality workers greater protections against sexual harassment and assault, the Chicago City Council passed the “Hands Off Pants On” Ordinance on October 11, 2017. The Ordinance requires all hotels in the City to adopt a panic button system and an anti-sexual harassment policy. The Ordinance was passed after months of lobbying efforts by local hospitality workers.

Panic Button

The Ordinance (revising Section 4-6-180 of the Chicago Municipal Code) requires hotels in Chicago to equip all employees who work alone in guest rooms or restrooms with a “panic button” or other notification device. The device must be designed to alert and summon hotel security or management for help in the event the employee reasonably believes that an ongoing crime, sexual harassment, sexual assault, or other emergency is occurring in the employee’s presence.

These portable panic buttons or other notification devices must be provided at no cost to covered employees by July 1, 2018.

The Ordinance states that the “panic button” must be a “portable emergency contact device” which allows employees to quickly and easily summon prompt assistance from a hotel security officer, manager, or other appropriate hotel staff member to the employee’s location.

As part of implementing these new “panic button” systems, employers should be prepared to provide training to employees regarding how to use the devices and respond to alerts.

Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy

The “Hands Off Pants On” Ordinance also requires that all Chicago hotels develop, maintain, and comply with a written anti-sexual harassment policy designed to protect employees against sexual assault and sexual harassment by hotel guests.

The policy must:

  1. Encourage employees to immediately report instances of alleged sexual assault and sexual harassment by guests;
  2. Describe the procedures that the employee and the hotel will follow in response to such reports;
  3. Instruct employees to stop working and immediately leave the area of the perceived danger until hotel security or the police arrive to provide assistance;
  4. Offer temporary work assignments to the complaining employee for the duration of the offending guest’s stay at the hotel;
  5. Provide employees with paid time off to file any appropriate police reports or testify as a witness in any legal proceedings arising from the incident;
  6. Inform employees that the Illinois Human Rights Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance provide additional protections against sexual harassment in the workplace; and
  7. Inform employees that they will not be retaliated against for reasonably using a panic button or notification device.

Chicago hotels must comply with the Ordinance’s policy requirement by January 7, 2018.

Anti-Retaliation; Enforcement

It is unlawful for hotels to retaliate against employees for reasonably using a panic button or notification device, or otherwise disclosing, reporting, or testifying about any violation of the Ordinance. Employees can file complaints alleging violations of the Ordinance with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations.

Hotels found to have committed two or more violations of the Ordinance in any 12-month period are subject to having their license suspended or revoked by the City.

Additionally, hotels may face between $250 and $500 in daily fines for each violation of the Ordinance.

***

Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to answer inquiries regarding this new law and assist employers in achieving compliance with its requirements.

©2017 Jackson Lewis P.C. This Update is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice nor does it create an attorney/client relationship between Jackson Lewis and any readers or recipients. Readers should consult counsel of their own choosing to discuss how these matters relate to their individual circumstances. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the express written consent of Jackson Lewis.

This Update may be considered attorney advertising in some states. Furthermore, prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Jackson Lewis P.C. represents management exclusively in workplace law and related litigation. Our attorneys are available to assist employers in their compliance efforts and to represent employers in matters before state and federal courts and administrative agencies. For more information, please contact the attorney(s) listed or the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you regularly work.

See AllRelated Articles You May Like

February 20, 2018

Ban-the-Box Laws in Spokane, Washington, and Kansas City, Missouri

February 20, 2018

State and local jurisdictions have continued to consider and enact legislation restricting employers from inquiring about a job applicant’s criminal background during the initial stages of the application process. Two of the latest enactments are in Spokane, Washington, and Kansas City, Missouri. Some ban-the-box ordinances are... Read More

February 12, 2018

EEOC: Retaliation Tops Discrimination Charges Filed in Fiscal Year 2017

February 12, 2018

Retaliation was the most common workplace discrimination charge received by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in fiscal year (FY) 2017, according to the agency. (The fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30.) Retaliation has been at the top since FY 2010. A total of 84,254 charges were filed with the agency... Read More

February 12, 2018

New York City Expands Definitions of ‘Sexual Orientation’ and ‘Gender’ in Human Rights Law

February 12, 2018

A new law passed by the New York City Council amends and significantly broadens the definitions of “sexual orientation” and “gender” in the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL). The new law will become effective on May 11, 2018.  Under Int. No. 1186-A, “sexual orientation” includes “an individual’s actual or perceived romantic... Read More