RI State House

Rhode Island General Assembly Approves Protection for Hotel Workers Against Verbal Abuse

The Rhode Island General Assembly has approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Frank A. Ciccone III and Rep. David A. Bennett to make permanent a provision allowing hotels to evict guests who verbally abuse or threaten hotel staff or other guests. This legislative move, requested by the hospitality industry, comes in response to a rise in incidents of attacks and abuse towards service workers in Rhode Island and beyond.

The legislation, designated as 2024-S 2271aa and 2024-H 7065A, now awaits the governor’s signature to become law. It aims to provide hotel employees and guests with stronger protections against abusive behaviors.

“No one deserves to be abused in the course of doing their job. Hotel employees, as well as guests, deserve to be protected from those who are abusing or threatening them. Their employers need this option to protect them and prevent verbal abuse from escalating into something even worse. Letting customers know that abusing the staff could result in eviction will help discourage the worst behavior that unfortunately, is becoming more common,” said Senator Ciccone (D-Dist. 7, Providence, North Providence).

Representative Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston) added, “Workers in the hospitality industry have endured a lot over the last few years, and they should not have to endure abuse on top of it. Making these protections permanent will protect them from abuse going forward.”

Existing Rhode Island law permits hotels to evict guests who refuse to pay, are obviously intoxicated, destroy or threaten to destroy hotel property, engage in underage drinking or illegal substance use, bring dangerous items like firearms or explosives onto the property, or violate posted hotel rules.

The 2022 legislation (2022-S 2511Aaa, 2022-H 7910A) expanded these grounds for eviction to include verbal abuse and physical threats towards employees or other guests. Additionally, it allowed hotels to post their rules online rather than on guest room doors and permitted them to refuse admission to unaccompanied minors under 18.

The new legislation solidifies these provisions, which were set to expire on July 1, 2024, making them a permanent part of Rhode Island law. It also includes safeguards to ensure it is not used as a pretext for discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age, or country of ancestral origin.




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