New Jersey hotel workers could soon carry panic buttons

Responding to an assault, New Jersey state lawmakers are considering panic buttons for hotel workers.

A maid walks through a bedroom in a suite in Atlantic City, N.J. (Mike Derer/AP Photo, file)

A maid walks through a bedroom in a suite in Atlantic City, N.J. (Mike Derer/AP Photo, file)

Hotel workers in New Jersey may soon be equipped with panic buttons to notify security personnel of an emergency.

Under a bill passed unanimously by both houses of the state Legislature, hotels with more than 100 guest rooms would be required to provide the devices to room service and housekeeping staff.

“I sort of tell it like it’s a medical alert device. You wear it around you, and if there’s a problem you push the button,” said Assemblyman John Armato, D-Atlantic, who sponsored the bill. “That will send the signal to your security office and they can get you help.”

Last year, a guest at Bally’s Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City pulled a housekeeping worker into a room and sexually assaulted her. The guest was later charged by police.

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Armato said hotel workers and unions have been calling for the change.

“Take Atlantic City, Fourth of July weekend, 70 degrees, people are out on the beach. These hotels are very big. And if you’re at the furthest end of the hallway and something happens, you’ve got a problem,” he said.

The bill now heads to Gov. Phil Murphy.

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