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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His lawyers maintain their client is innocent. In some press accounts, there are implications of consensual sex. In others, there are reports Strauss-Kahn was at lunch when the attack was alleged.Skip to next paragraph
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“Both sides will start to look for corroborative evidence,” says Larry Cunningham, associate dean of the St. John’s School of Law in New York.
For example, he says the New York Police Department might have looked for DNA evidence under the alleged victim’s fingernails or looked for scratch marks on Strauss-Kahn, who has been examined by the police.
“In addition, they would be interviewing people who saw the alleged victim right afterwards. What was her demeanor? Was she calm and collected or agitated and upset?” says Mr. Cunningham.
However, he points out that DNA under a victim’s nails may have gotten there through consensual sex.
“It is way too premature to talk about this case when you don’t know the forensic evidence to evaluate the strength of the prosecutors’ case,” he says.
“It’s not just sexual harassment by co-workers, but it can be for vendors or guests,” says Ms. Yeager. “There can be multiple avenues to report it so you feel comfortable telling what happened in your workplace.”
She says many hotels train their staffs not to enter a room if a guest is present and is not properly dressed. In addition, she says, many hotels supply their employees with door stops so they can prop the door open so the room is open to the hallway.
Yeager says hotels encourage employees to report incidents. “If the staff is fearful about going into rooms, then you don’t have a great staff,” she says. “You have to keep your staff happy for a high level of guest service.”
At the same time, the hotel has to protect the privacy of the guest, says Maize. “Typically, the room is the guest’s property,” he says.
A normal protocol is for the housekeeper to knock on the door and announce they are outside. If there is no answer, they are taught to do it again. “It would be very rare for them to enter and not announce who they were,” he says.
However, he says if someone were in the shower, it’s possible they did not hear anyone knocking at the door.
He recalls working in Pennsylvania at a hotel and knocking on a door. No one answered and he let himself in. “There was someone in the room,” he recalls. “You just hope it does not happen and that the people answer you when you knock.”