New York hotel maids to be given panic buttons

NEW YORK — Housekeepers in New York City hotels will be given personal panic buttons, a provision that comes shortly after the incident when a maid claimed Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former chief of the International Monetary Fund, sexually assaulted her, Reuters reported.

The panic buttons are a provision in the latest proposed contracts for hotel housekeepers and other employees. The provisions include pay raises, fully paid health coverage and larger pension contributions, The New York Times reported.

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The extra security provision equips employees with “devices to be carried on their persons at work that they can quickly and easily activate to effectively summon prompt assistance to their location,” The Times reported. The device would call for help if a hotel employee runs into trouble while in a guest’s room.

The panic buttons will be given within a year to staff such as housekeepers, room-service waiters and even attendants who stock minibars. The contract for the Hotel Association of New York is for the next seven years, New York Hotel Trades Council spokesman John Turchiano said, the Associated Press reported.

He also said the panic button inclusion was not spurred by the Kahn case.

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"It's unfortunate but there are instances when guests behave inappropriately," said Turchiano, Reuters reported. "This would be a really good way to cut down on that and give our members strong protections."

In May, a maid at the Sofitel New York hotel said Kahn attacked and attempted to rape her while she was in his suite. However, her case was dismissed after prosecutors felt her credibility was shaky, the AP reported.

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