Hospitality property employees can face an onslaught of mistreatment so often that it has become a normal part of the work experience, including sexual harassment.

Welcome to another edition of Hospitality Property School.

Today, I am going to look at “Harassment in Hospitality Properties”.



Employees in hotels, resorts, inns, bed & breakfasts and restaurants face an onslaught of mistreatment so often that it has become a normal part of the work experience, including many being exposed to sexual harassment.


Testimony from workers suggests sexual harassment is happening in plain sight, with many employers accused of failing to protect staff from regular abuse.


In a general Canadian workplace survey, 94% of executives (mostly male) said there is no sexual harassment in their workplace – 30% of workers said there is.


Early research gathered by Unite the Union from employees in the hospitality industry found that 89% said they had experienced one or more occurrences of sexual harassment.


56.3% said they had been harassed by a member of the public while 22.7% said they had been targeted by a manager.


More than half of the employees who had been harassed said the experience made them feel unsafe and less confident at work.


In Chicago, Unite Here surveyed approximately 500 of its members who work in hotels and casinos as housekeepers and servers.


Some of what they found include

  • 58 percent of hotel workers and 77 percent of casino workers said they had been sexually harassed by a guest.
  • 49 percent of hotel workers said they had experienced a guest answering the door naked or otherwise exposing himself.
  • 56 percent of hotel workers who’d reported harassment said they didn’t feel safe on the job afterwards.


The last few months there have been many media reports of sexual harassment the more it gets reported, the more obvious it becomes that sexual harassment is an abuse of power.


Hospitality property workers are susceptible to such harassment, their place of work and the environment can be a vehicle for some improper events and behaviour.


For many in the past, some of this sort of harassing behaviour both verbal and physical may have been believed as “part of the job”, but that philosophy is quickly changing.


The hospitality property industry must ensure that it is in sync with the public opinion and that this conduct wherever and whenever found is totally intolerable.


Today, more in the industry realise they are responsible for the care of everybody who walks through their doors, whether they are guests or employees.


So what can we do?


“The customer is not always right but we must make them feel like they are … except when it comes to harassment”.


I have a couple of thoughts.

You need to have a zero tolerance policy regarding harassment of guests or employees.


This means hospitality properties develop a sexual harassment policy that shows workers how to report incidents and provide them with time to file complaints with the police.


Now, I know many properties do have these types of policies in place but a Unite survey, it showed that over 70% of employees surveyed stated they were not aware of any such harassment policies or the actions of management that could be expected.


You have to make sure that as soon as you hire a new employee they are made fully aware of the sexual harassment, along with all other policies, and actions and processes for reporting incidents.


Another suggestion I have heard was to give employees, especially housekeepers, handheld, wireless panic buttons that can alert hotel security or the front desk when a worker feels threatened.


In many cases, an employee might feel because there might be a difference of economic power between wrongdoers and themselves that they do not have the right to act. This is where it is important that from day one you show your employees that you support them and that they have the right to speak up, without having to risk their job.


You shouldn’t be scared to go to work. There have to be more


alternatives – more security – more support.



I want to hear your thoughts.

What are you doing to ensure the wellbeing of your employees?

Do you have harassment policies in place?

Do you have training in place that covers harassment?

How is harassment from management or higher handled?


If you have any stories about “Harassment in Hospitality Properties” and would like to share or have any questions or feedback you can leave them in the comments section of the show notes.


You can find them at:


That’s it for this session of hospitality property school.

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So, as always, let’s work together to put heads in your beds.

Until next time, have a fun day.





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Music Credit:

Sun Spark



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