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by Lisa A. Grimaldi | June 09, 2011

Two New York lawmakers, Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) and Sen. Betty Little (R-Clinton) introduced legislation on June 6 that would require hotel and motel owners in the state to provide sexual-harassment training to their employees and to provide a clear system for reporting episodes of sexual abuse. The bill, believed to be the first of its kind in the United States, also would establish a hotel employees' bill of rights and would protect such workers from retaliation if they speak out about or report cases of sexual harassment or abuse. The proposed bill comes three weeks after the indictment of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, on charges of sexual assault against a Sofitel New York housekeeper, and a week after an incident was reported at The Pierre on the Upper East Side, in which police arrested a prominent Egyptian banker on similar charges. "The behavior of hotel guests will always be unpredictable, and recent events have demonstrated that there is a clear need for sexual-harassment awareness and prevention education and training for hotel employees," said Rosenthal in a statement. "The goal of this legislation is to help educate the countless employees in the hospitality industry about sexual harassment and ultimately, to empower them to speak up without fear of employer retaliation. Many hotel workers are women who are new to the country and speak limited English, making them particularly vulnerable; it is essential that they be provided with specific protections under the law, and that is exactly what this bill will do."