Strauss-Kahn case raises question: How safe are hotel employees?
Violent crimes against hotel employees, as is alleged in the Strauss-Kahn case, are rare, but they do take place. Industry experts say protecting staff and making them feel safe is a priority.
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They strip the sheets after a guest leaves, clean the tub and toilet daily, vacuum the room, and then get to do it all over – again and again – for anywhere from $12 to $15 per hour.
How safe are they? Do hotels report attacks on their staff or try to cover up the bad publicity?
Lawyers and experts involved with the hospitality industry say sexual harassment is taken seriously. One of the main reasons: If the hotel staff does not feel safe, they are not likely to be happy – no matter how much they get paid. Luxury hotels especially do not want the reputation of being unsafe or condoning attacks on their staff. And most hotels are not afraid to tell guests who are involved in inappropriate behavior to pack their bags and leave.
“Hotel management has an obligation to protect the employees,” says Roy Maize, director of the Restaurant, Hotel and Meetings program at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and a former hotel Human Resources manager. “If there is a criminal offense they would be obligated to take action.”
Although crimes in hotels are relatively rare, they do take place. Between 2004 and 2008, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports there were on average 7,840 violent crimes a year in hotels or motels. This is only 0.1 percent of all violent crimes.
But, it’s not clear from the statistics how many of those crimes were committed against hotel or motel employees.
In the past, some of the violent crimes, such as rape, can be difficult for prosecutors to try, mainly because it can often be a matter of “he says, she says.”
In 2004, prosecutors dropped rape charges against basketball star Kobe Bryant after the alleged victim, a hotel employee, decided not to testify. The judge had ruled that Mr. Bryant’s lawyers could question the employee about her sexual behavior in days leading up to the alleged incident, which took place in his hotel room.
In the case of Mr. Strauss-Kahn, he is alleged to have attacked the housekeeper after he emerged nude from the bathroom. He is alleged to have then attempted to rape the victim, followed by an attempt to force her to perform oral sex.