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Illinois Panic Button System Legislation

Updated: Oct 12, 2021

Over the last few months, we here at SensLynx have installed and are in the process of installing dozens of panic button systems in the state of Illinois. We wanted to update key items around the legislation in Illinois that went into effect March 1st, 2021. The details below are for informational and educational purposes only and these should not be substituted for legal requirements. We recommend you should seek it from a qualified attorney in your state if you need clarification on your specific legal requirements. Hotel and Casino Employee Safety Act Requirements of Illinois As of March 1st, 2021, the Hotel and Casino Employee Safety Act went into effect in the entire state of Illinois. This deadline has passed yet many hotels are still in the process of sourcing panic button solutions. If your hotel or casino is in the state of Illinois, here are some top issues you need to know about panic buttons for your staff:

  1. The panic button, safety device or notification device must be provided by the hotel or casino at no cost to the employee.

  2. The panic button device must be physically with the employee, and it needs to provide specific location when the device is triggered.

  3. An alert must be received by security, management or other staff personnel who have the ability to aid the employee in distress.

  4. Workers are also protected from retaliation as a result of using their panic buttons since in Illinois it is also illegal “for an employer to retaliate against any employee who reasonably uses a safety device or notification device.”

  5. Illinois has a long history of workplace protection. The new Hotel and Casino Employee Safety Act actually builds off of (and references) the Human Rights Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to provide additional protections against sexual harassment in the workplace.

Panic button 101 in Illinois State:

  • It is not only hotel housekeeping staff mentioned. The Hotel and Casino Employee Safety Act mentions casinos, casino employers, riverboats, guests and more.

  • Sexual harassment gets specific. Just in case it is not clear what constitutes harassments, the bill specifies that “sexual harassment” means “any harassment or discrimination on the basis of an individual’s actual or perceived sex or gender, including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.”

  • Violations should be reported. Section 5-20 of the act details how employees may bring an action in writing if they feel the hotel or casino is in violation of this act. So, say for instance, hotel management only purchases limited panic buttons or attempts to charge employees for them, this violates the act meant to protect staff.

  • Hotels have 15 calendar days to clear up these violations. Worth noting that not complying with panic button laws can be costly. Each day that a violation continues constitutes a separate violation. Each violation may receive economic damages of up to $350.00/day. That means that a single violation could rack up $3,250.00 in damages making it a lot cheaper to simply purchase panic buttons and outfit your staff accordingly.

There is a commitment to security to the “lone worker” or “solo employee”. When staff are provided with panic buttons and other communications devices, they no longer feel as isolated when working in remote locations. Hotels and casinos should create policies and distribute them widely. It is important that hotel and casino staff clearly see that hotel and casino management take both their safety and concerns extremely seriously. One last thing: Despite being in the headlines often right now, panic button legislation in the state of Illinois has been on the radar for years. According to the Chicago City website, back in 2017, the city council passed the Hotel Workers Sexual Harassment Ordinance to provide what were then referred to as “new protections for hotel workers” from sexual harassment. In what now sounds familiar to most and a variation of current panic button laws, the ordinance introduced by Ald. Michelle Harris required hotels “to comply with three major duties: 1) provide panic buttons or similar notification devices to employees who have to enter guest rooms or restrooms alone, 2) develop, maintain, and comply with anti-sexual harassment policies, and 3) provide all employees with a copy of the policy and post it in conspicuous places within the hotel.” In other words, the current laws should already have been in place in Chicago hotels, they now simply became law for the rest of Illinois. There are many states that are following Illinois’s lead, with a handful who have already passed similar legislation statewide such as New Jersey and Washington. About Robert Garry - For more than 30 years, Rob has been running his own businesses and working with and for the largest communications companies in the world, and is currently co-founder and CEO of SensLynx, an IoT solutions provider for Panic Button Systems, Refrigeration Monitoring, Fleet Tracking, Wireless Internet backup, Out-of-Band Management, and other IoT-based monitoring applications.

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