“Hands Off, Pants On.” That’s a demand no labor union should even have to make. But we’re glad that Unite-HERE Local 1, Chicago’s union for hotel and hospitality employees, is making it – and serving notice that sexual harassment on the job will not be tolerated.
Women in the hotel and entertainment industries face epidemic rates of sexual harassment, primarily from male guests. In a new report titled Hands Off, Pants On (available for download here) Unite-HERE surveyed their Chicago membership, and turned up some disturbing findings:
• 58% of women hotel employees reported being sexually harassed by customers at least once. This ranged from groping and fondling to sexually explicit comments, pressure for dates, and (yecch) hotel guests who answered the door naked. The rate was even higher for women casino employees.
• More than half these workers reported feeling unsafe on returning to the job – but only a third of them reported the incidents to their supervisors. The most likely reason is a do-nothing attitude by management: Only 19% of workers had received any guidance from their employer on how to deal with this all-too-common problem.
What does this have to do with workers comp? First, an incident of this type is an assault, pure and simple. And when it leads to physical injuries OR significant psychological shock and stress, you have a right to compensation and treatment. Call EE&A at (312) 226-2650 to discuss filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Better yet, we’d like to see this type of injury become history. The union has some commonsense proposals to keep workers safe. Like requiring hotels to ban guests who engage in this kind of abusive conduct. And supplying “panic buttons” to employees who must work alone in hotel rooms, allowing them to call for help, as some unionized hotels in New York City are already doing.