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October 21, 2019

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Sacramento County “Panic Button” Ordinance

The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors has approved an Ordinance requiring hotel and motel operators in Sacramento County to provide employees with a panic button or notification device that can be used to call for help when an employee reasonably believes sexual harassment activity is occurring in the employee’s presence. The panic button is designed to be used in emergency situations to summon hotel security or other appropriate staff to the employee’s location.

The Ordinance, officially titled The Sacramento County Hotel Worker Protection Act of 2018, requires panic buttons be provided to each employee who works in guest rooms at no cost to the employees.  It also requires affected hotels and motels to develop, maintain, and comply with a written sexual harassment policy.  The sexual harassment policy must be designed to encourage employees to immediately report instances of alleged sexual assault and sexual harassment by guests to the hotel licensee.  The policy must also describe the procedures that the complaining employee and the hotel are to follow when instances of sexual assault or sexual harassment arise.

The Ordinance only applies to hotels and motels subject to licensure in the unincorporated area of Sacramento County with 25 or more rooms. This is estimated to effect 24 hotels and motels, or approximately seventy-five percent, of Sacramento County’s existing licensed hotels and motels.

A similar Bill, AB 1761, was introduced to the California Legislature in January 2018. This Bill would require hotel employers state-wide to provide employees with a panic button to call for assistance when working alone in a guest room.  The Bill would also require a hotel employer to compile and maintain a list of guests who have been alleged to have committed an act of violence or harassment against employees at that hotel, and to decline service to any person on that list for a period of three years.  If this Bill were approved, it would make California the first state in the Nation to have a state-wide law requiring hotels to provide panic buttons to employees that work alone in guest rooms.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2019


About this Author

Kaitlyn L. Lavaroni, Jackson Lewis, labor and employment lawyer

Kaitlyn L. Lavaroni is an Associate in the Sacramento, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Her practice focuses on representing management in a broad range of employment law matters, including discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, and wage and hour claims, as well as providing preventative advice and counsel.

Prior to joining Jackson Lewis, Ms. Lavaroni worked at a midsize law firm in New York where she represented insurance carriers in connection with an extensive array of insurance coverage issues.  

Cary G Palmer, Attorney, Jackson Lewis Law Firm
Office Managing Principal

Cary G. Palmer is Office Managing Principal of the Sacramento, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He represents management in employment, labor and benefits law and related litigation.

Mr. Palmer practices before the state and federal courts in California, the United States Department of Labor, the United States Equal Opportunity Commission, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, and the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. Mr. Palmer also defends management in statewide and nationwide class action and collective action litigation. He also defends management in litigation involving wrongful termination, reductions in force, discrimination, harassment, breach of contract, wage and hour, benefits, and other labor and employment-related actions. Mr. Palmer also conducts employee and management training seminars, and provides proactive employment advice and counsel.