New Jersey governor signs panic button bill to give hotel room cleaners 'security'

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday signed legislation that will force certain hotels in the state to equip staff who have housekeeping jobs with panic devices.

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Hotels that have more than 100 guest rooms will have to comply with the bill that was designed to offer a layer of security to those employees and help shield them from violent acts, Murphy’s office said in a news release. It noted sexual assault and harassment in particular.

"I am proud to sign panic button legislation to give hotel workers security and the ability to immediately call for help should they need it," Murphy said as he signed the bill.

“We must protect the safety of workers in the hospitality industry,” the Democratic lawmaker added. “This new law will ensure that hotel employees performing their duties will have the means to summon immediate assistance if they are in danger.”

Murphy and several nationwide unions said New Jersey is the first state to mandate the devices, although similar measures are under consideration in Illinois, Florida and Washington state. The legislation will go into effect in January.

The bill was sponsored by numerous state legislators, including state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, according to the governor’s office.

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“No one should ever have to work in fear,” Weinberg said in an online statement. “The isolating nature of hotel employees servicing private rooms, puts them in a uniquely vulnerable position. A panic device to communicate to authorities outside of the room in the case of harassment and assault, will go a long way to ensuring their safety, security and workplace wellbeing.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.