New Jersey's 'Panic Button' Law
The "Panic Button" law (S2986/A4439), enacted on June 11, 2019, is designed to protect hotel employees from sexual assault and other dangerous working conditions. It requires employers to equip housekeeping and room service staff with panic devices they carry at work whenever they are assigned to work in a guest room without any other employees present.
This law went into effect on December 1, 2019.
The information provided below is not a legal document. Please refer to the statute for the precise language in the law.
Hotels, inns, boarding houses, motels or other similar establishments with at least 100 guest rooms.
Employers covered by the law must provide a panic device to each employee assigned to work in a guest room without other employees present, at no cost to the employee. An employee may use the panic device to signal a crime in progress or immediate threat or emergency. The employee may stop work and leave the immediate area of perceived danger or inappropriate conduct to await assistance, and no adverse action may be taken against the employee for such action.
Upon a hotel employee activating a panic device, an appropriate staff member of the hotel, such as a manager, supervisor or security officer, must respond promptly to the location of the employee.
The hotel/motel is required to keep a record of the accusations it receives and maintain the name of the accused guest on a list for five years from the date of the incident. The hotel/motel is also required to report suspected misconduct or criminal activity to appropriate law enforcement authorities. The employer must notify other employees of the presence and location of any accused guest, and allow them to opt out of servicing such locations. The hotel/motel must also immediately reassign the hotel employee who activated the panic device to a different work area away from the guest room of the guest for the duration of the guest’s stay at the hotel.
For additional requirements, please refer to the full text of the law.
A panic device is defined as a two-way radio or other electronic device carried by the employee when the employee is in a guest room that can be easily activated to communicate with or summon immediate on-scene assistance from a security officer, manager or supervisor. The hotel/motel is responsible for educating staff on how to use the panic device, and is also responsible for advising guests of the panic devices it provides to guests either by requiring guests to acknowledge the policy as part of the hotel terms and conditions upon checking in to the hotel, or placing signs inside guest room doors detailing the panic device policy and the rights of hotel employees.
The law went into effective December 1, 2019. Employers are expected to comply immediately upon the law’s effective date.
A hotel/motel owner who violates the law is subject to a penalty of up to $5,000 for a first violation and $10,000 for each subsequent violation.