Following the alleged sexual assault of a maid by former IMF chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, some luxury hotels have decided to offer panic buttons to their employees. The alleged assault took place at the Sofitel hotel where the maid was employed. The maid said that she entered Strauss-Kahn's room to clean it and was attacked. Following the maid's report of the attack, Sofitel decided to give maids panic buttons to protect them against sexual harassment and possible assaults.
According to a recent article by Cynthia Hsu, providing the buttons to hotel employees will also protect Sofitel from potentially being held liable for not doing what it can as an employer to create a safe work environment. According to Hsu, employers can best protect themselves and their employees by being proactive in creating safer working conditions.
After the attack took place, an employer could be accused of knowing that its employees worked in unsafe conditions but doing nothing about it if it did not take measures to protect them. A recent alleged sexual abuse of a maid at The Pierre has also led to The Pierre to offer panic buttons to its employees.
Now, if maids feel threatened by a hotel guest, they can use the buttons to alert security. Maids work in a potentially dangerous environment since they could be locked alone in a room with a stranger. A panic button could perhaps prevent an attack or at least end it more quickly by allowing employees to call for help.