Women working in the Chicagoland hospitality industry “face a high level of sexual harassment” at local casinos and hotels, according to a new survey from UNITE HERE Local 1.
The union says the survey is the first of its kind.
UNITE HERE Local 1 surveyed 487 women who work at 13 Chicagoland hotels, three casinos and one convention center, finding that 58 percent reported having been sexually harassed by a guest.
As for hotel housekeepers, 49 percent of those surveyed “said guests had exposed themselves, flashed them or answered the door naked,” according to the union.
Additionally, 65 percent of casino cocktail servers surveyed “said a guest had grabbed, groped, patted, kissed them or a guest had tried to touch them in an unwelcome way.”
The survey findings suggest that sexual harassment by casino and hotel guests often goes unreported, with just 33 percent of hospitality workers saying that they reported such incidents to their supervisor or manager.
“The most common reasons given for not reporting related to a belief that little can be done to address indecent guest behavior,” the union said in its report on the survey.
UNITE HERE Local 1 is pushing for changes to state and local laws to protect casino and hotel workers. Among other recommendations, employers should be required to ban guests who have sexually harassed an employee and provide panic buttons to “any employee who works alone in rooms without other employees present.”
The union says the survey came after a waitress at Rivers Casino in Des Plaines “experienced grotesque sexual harassment by a male guest.”
“As a response to the incident at Rivers, the union began the #ComeForward campaign to challenge the culture that silences women exposed to sexual harassment, to encourage women to tell their own stories, and shed light on the inherent risks for women working in the hospitality industry,” the report reads.