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Hotel workers assaulted by guests can lead to third-party claims

Hotel workers nationwide, including in California, are incredibly vulnerable when they work alone in areas such as guest rooms where they are isolated. Too many hotel workers fall victim to sexual assault and harassment in the hospitality industry. Although the state-regulated workers' compensation system covers work-related injuries, proving these incidents to be related to one's job could be challenging. However, victims might have grounds to file third-party claims.

Safety authorities representing the largest hotel companies in the world recently stepped up and announced that their employees would be equipped with electronic panic buttons or devices to be used to call for help. Furthermore, these hotels will establish anti-harassment policies and provide workers with relevant safety training. The American Hotel and Lodging Assn. chief executive says tens-of-thousands of workers will benefit from this initiative.

Although hotel workers in several other states are already equipped with panic buttons, unions in Southern California that represent hotel workers have recently launched campaigns to include similar protocols in this state. While sexual harassment is prevalent in all industries, hotel workers are said to be particularly vulnerable. The threats they face do not always involve hotel guests, and even co-workers can take advantage of the isolation of hotel rooms.

Hotel workers in California who are victims of sexual harassment or assault may have questions about their legal rights. The most logical step might be to consult with an experienced workers' compensation attorney to learn about their options. In cases that involve hotel guests or anyone else who is not linked to the same employer, victims could be entitled to seek damage recovery by filing third-party claims in a civil court.

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