Assemblywoman Annie Rabbitt (R,C,I-Greenwood Lake) voted against legislation that would impose unfunded mandates on hotel and motel owners and operators. The bill, A.8195-A, was drafted in response to the arrest of International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn for the attempted rape of a New York City hotel worker on May 14, 2011.
“In another misguided attempt to ‘fix’ our state, the Assembly drafted this legislation to mandate sexual harassment training for hotel and motel workers. Mr. Strauss-Kahn was arrested for attempted rape – not sexual harassment – and, having taken multiple sexual harassment training courses myself, I know that no training program will protect hospitality workers from being attacked by customers. To deter sexual predators, we should strengthen penalties for those who commit sex crimes and help law enforcement prosecute cases – not impose mandates on employers,” said the assemblywoman.
Assemblywoman Rabbitt continued, “While I am certain that the bill’s sponsor only intended to improve public safety, in actuality, this bill does nothing to improve the security in the hospitality industry. In fact, enactment of this bill could threaten the jobs of hotel and motel workers by further escalating the cost of doing business here in New York state.”
Assembly Bill 8195-A mandates that all hotel and motel workers, defined as anyone hired (including independent contractors) to work more than 20 hours per week, be provided a “know your rights” brochure and complete sexual harassment training within two months of being hired. The bill requires hotel and motel owners and operators to create and implement sexual harassment training as well as to establish sexual harassment protocols. Additionally, the bill mandates employers prepare and submit to the state Department of Labor verification that the training has been accomplished, along with a list of all employees who participated in the training, before April 1 of each year. Upon completion of this initial training, employees would be required to repeat the training every two years.
Despite opposition from organizations, including the New York State Hospitality and Tourism Association and Business Council, the bill was passed by the Assembly on June 21, 2011. The bill has no Senate companion legislation, without which it cannot be considered for enactment.