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New Jersey Mandates Panic Buttons For Hotel Room Cleaners

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS/AP) - New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has signed a law requiring most of the state's hotels to provide their workers with wearable panic buttons they can press to quickly summon help in an emergency. The Democratic governor signed the bill Tuesday.

He and several nationwide unions say New Jersey is the first state to mandate the devices, although at least two others are considering similar measures.

The law takes effect in January and applies to hotels with 100 or more rooms. That includes all nine Atlantic City casinos.

The panic buttons are an effort to protect hotel employees from violent acts, such as sexual assault and sexual harassment while performing housekeeping duties.

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

Iris Sanchez, a room cleaner at Caesars, says she's relieved to know she'll be going home safely each night after working.

"No one should ever have to work in fear," said Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg. "The isolating nature of hotel employees servicing private rooms, puts them in a uniquely vulnerable position. 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 2018, a room cleaner at Bally's casino was pushed into a room by a man who then sexually assaulted her.

Primary sponsors of the bill include Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Senator Linda Greenstein, and Assembly members John Armato, Vince Mazzeo, and Cleopatra Tucker.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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