New ‘Panic Button’ Bill Gets Washington Hospitality Association Support

January 24, 2019

The Washington Hospitality Association (WHA) voiced its approval for Senate Bill 5258.

According to the Washington State Legislature, this bill will help prevent “the sexual harassment and sexual assault of certain isolated workers.” Senate Bill 5258 was introduced following the Washington State Court of Appeals’ blocking of Seattle Initiative Measure 124, which included broader protections.

Senate Bill 5258 would require that every hospitality employer enact a sexual harassment policy, provide mandatory sexual harassment prevention training to all employees, provide a list of resources for employees and provide a panic button to each isolated worker.

[Related Content: Seattle ‘Panic Button’ Law Blocked in Court]

Senate Bill 5258 was first heard in the Senate Labor & Commerce committee on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019, and will need to clear additional legislative hurdles before becoming law.

"We are just as passionate about our team members as we are any other part of our business, and their health and safety are essential," said Anthony Anton, president and CEO of the Washington Hospitality Association. "How do we take employee protection to the next level? By providing training, adopting policies and procedures and supporting the use of safety devices."

Seattle Hotel Association Also Supports Senate Bill 5258

The Seattle Hotel Association (SHA) testified alongside the WHA in support of Senate Bill 5258.

"The Seattle Hotel Association supports the use of panic buttons," said Seattle Hotel Association President Shannon Sheron. "Many of our hotels have had them in place for years and will continue to do so, as part of our vigorous commitment to employee safety. We are proud to support this bill."

Similar measures to provide hotel workers with safety devices and increased training have passed in local jurisdictions across the U.S., however, if this bill passes during the 2019 Legislative Session, Washington would be one of the first states with the expanded protections for independent employees.

American Hotel & Lodging Association’s 5-Star Promise

In September 2018, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), along with major, national hotel brands, announced the 5-Star Promise, a pledge to provide all hotel employees in the U.S. with employee safety devices by 2020 as well as enhanced policies, trainings and resources that increase hotel safety, including the prevention and response to sexual harassment and assault.

The AH&LA and the SHA opposed Seattle Initiative Measure 124 for being too far reaching.

[Read This Next: Major Hotel Chains Debut ‘Panic Buttons’]

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Kate Cripe | Former Content Developer, Departments/Features

Kate Cripe worked with Meetings Today for over eight years as a Sales, Marketing and Content Coordinator. She then moved to the editorial team where she writes and edits feature, destination and news articles.