Chicago now requires "panic buttons" for hotel workers

Workers at Chicago hotels now have "panic buttons" to summon help if needed.

An ordinance that took effect this week requires hotels to provide the buttons, which are meant to protect housekeeping staff and others who work alone in guest rooms from sexual harassment and other crimes.

A survey of 500 workers conducted by Unite Here Local 1 found 58 percent reported they've experienced at least one incident of sexual harassment by guests. The most common was guests answering their door naked. Only one-third of workers who experience such harassment report it to their manager, the survey found.

The buttons trigger a message to the cellphone of the employee's supervisor, manager and human resources department and provide the employee's name and location.

Karen Kent, president of Unite Here Local 1, said it's "a new day for women working in Chicago hotels."

Some hotels in Las Vegas have followed suit, but the hospitality workers there are continuing to negotiate for panic buttons with various properties, KTNV reported.