Sac County Board of Supervisors Approves ‘Panic Button’ Plan for Hotel Workers

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 in favor of a measure that would give hotel workers, specifically housekeeping staff, a so-called panic button to use in instances of danger.

The measure applies to 32 hotels in unincorporated Sacramento County, not cities. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg expressed support for the idea and said he would like to see something similar in the city.

Supervisor Sue Frost was the only dissenting vote. Frost said she supports the idea, but suggested it put an unfair burden on hotels and said it should be researched more.

"We have those situations in every business. So to single out one industry, I wonder if that's fair," Frost said.

The button itself would be on wristbands worn primarily by housekeeping staff. At Tuesday's meeting, woman after woman spoke about hotel guests behaving inappropriately toward them. Men often expose themselves or make unwanted sexual advances at housekeeping staff, they said.

"This is something that's been happening for many many years and now it's coming out to light," Gina Longo, from United Here Local 49, said.

Many of the women needed translators. Some believe the language barrier could have prevented them from getting help sooner.

Whether pushing the button alerts hotel security or law enforcement has yet to be worked out.