Annmarie Fertoli, Associate Producer, WNYC News
Annmarie Fertoli is an Associate Producer at WNYC, working with the afternoon news team to produce All Things Considered.
A state lawmaker has introduced a bill that would require hotel maids to be equipped with personal security devices, in the wake of the recent arrest of ex-International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who's been accused of sexually assaulting a hotel worker at the upscale midtown hotel Sofitel.
State Assemblyman Rory Lancman, who chairs the assembly's subcommittee on workplace safety, said hotel maids are often alone when they are cleaning rooms, leaving them vulnerable and "at the mercy of the guest."
"Although we often think about workplace safety in terms of construction workers falling off a building, or mine workers getting a mine collapsing on them, every workplace has its own workplace safety challenges," Lancman said.
Lancman said the personal security devices — much like the emergency buttons used by elderly people who live alone — are readily available, and can cost as little as $20 a month. If approved, his legislation would become part of New York State Labor Law.
The New York Hotel Workers' Union said it supports the bill. A spokesman added that violent incidents like the alleged attack are not frequent occurrences in city hotels. He also said the city has strong security regulations in place. The Hotel Association of New York City is currently reviewing the bill. A spokeswoman said the group shares the goal of keeping hotel workers safe.