NEW SURVEY SHOWS 1 IN 4 OAKLAND HOTEL WORKERS HAVE BEEN THREATENED BY MALE GUESTS WHILE ON THE JOB
Oakland, CA – As the #TimesUp and #MeToo movement reshapes American workplaces, lower-wage workers are often excluded from the narrative. On the heels of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony, hotel workers in Oakland are speaking out – and data from a new survey shows they face alarming rates of sexual assault, threats, and other inappropriate behavior on the job.
The survey, conducted in August, found that more than half of Oakland’s hotel workers, who are primarily women of color, have experienced a guest opening the door naked or exposing himself, and 1 in 4 have felt threatened by hotel guests while working. Many also experience low pay, wage theft and backbreaking workloads that leave them exhausted.
“I’m just one of the many women who work in Oakland’s hotels,” said Blanca Smith, an Oakland hotel worker. “We live in fear and shame of guests exposing themselves to us — or worse — when we enter to clean their room or bring them food. It’s embarrassing and humiliating. These hotel guests take away our dignity and threaten our safety, but our manager just tells us to keep quiet; that the guests come first.”
The survey gives context to a problem that has rarely been quantified or described. Among its key findings:
More than half of the women surveyed has experienced a guest opening the door naked or exposing himself.
1 in 4 said guests had done or said something to make them feel unsafe.
101 incidents of flashing or exposure to nudity were reported by the 102 respondents.
18 incidents in which a guest touched or tried to touch them in an unwelcome way (such as kissing, grabbing, pinching, patting, groping, etc.) were reported.
This November, Oakland voters have an opportunity to help bring much needed change, so these workers can feel safe and fully participate in their communities. Measure Z, the Time’s Up Oakland initiative, will appear on the November ballot, and protects hotel workers in the following ways:
Addresses sexual assault in the workplace among hotel workers by providing a panic button to every hotel room cleaner and creating procedures to protect workers who are assaulted or threatened on the job.
Sets living wage and workload standards for hospitality workers, to help them earn fair wages for a fair day’s work, and take care of their families.
And Measure Z protects ALL Oakland workers by creating a Department of Workplace and Employment Standards to enhance enforcement measures that ensure all low-wage workers in Oakland get paid at least the minimum wage and have fair workplaces.
A full copy of the report can be found here.