In the wake of the alleged sexual assault of a New York City housekeeper by former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the Sofitel hotel where the attacked is reported to have occurred says that female housekeepers can now wear pants. A New York Hotel Workers Union official reports that hotel employees protested about the uniform, says the New York Post:
Sofitel, a hotel chain that prides itself on a traditional dress code, made the concession amid concern about the vulnerability of chambermaids after Strauss-Kahn was charged over allegations that he sexually assaulted and tried to rape a 32-year-old housekeeper.
It goes without saying that it doesn’t speak to well of the hotel that it took such a terrible incident — a violent crime against one of its employees — for such a change to be instituted.
Earlier in the week, New York Assemblyman Rory Lancman said that hotel housekeepers should have panic buttons to “protect themselves from perverts” and as “another way to improve their working conditions,” according to the New York Daily News. Lancman has also introduced the Housekeeper Injury Prevention Act, which would require that hotels use fitted sheets instead of flat ones, so the housekeepers would not have to lift heavy mattresses:
“You come and lift up a 50- or 60-pound mattress 15 or 20 times a day for 10 years and tell me if it’s easy on your back,” the Queens Democrat said.
Lancman, who is chairman of the Assembly subcommittee on workplace safety, cited a study that found hotel workers had an injury rate 25% higher than other service workers.
Hotels chains have been reviewing their security measures to protect employees after the alleged sexual assault by Strauss-Kahn.
Earlier today, the Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers said that they have evidence that will “undermine the credibility” of the housekeeper’s case. According to the New York Times:
The suggestion, contained in a three-page letter from the lawyers to Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, was almost entirely devoted to the lawyers’ complaints about unauthorized disclosures of the case to the press. But it included a reference to unspecified information that they said would hurt the prosecution’s case.
In the letter, sent Wednesday and made public Thursday, the lawyers, William W. Taylor III and Benjamin Brafman, complained “that our client’s right to a fair trial is being compromised by the public disclosure of prejudicial material even before these materials have been disclosed to his counsel.”
“Indeed,” they added, “were we intent on improperly feeding the media frenzy, we could now release substantial information that in our view would seriously undermine the quality of this prosecution and also gravely undermine the credibility of the complainant in this case.”
The New York Times describes the letter as a “form of legal gamesmanship — allowing Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers to hint at damaging information about the housekeeper without revealing it.” His lawyers have hired the Guidepost Solutions to investigate her background.
DNA samples taken from Strauss-Kahn can be linked to evidence found on the housekeeper’s uniform, the New York Times reported earlier this week. Prosecutors in the case also say that they have been in contact with “more than one” woman who said Strauss-Kahn had sexually assaulted her. Further, at a court appearance, a prosecutor described Strauss-Kahn as having “a propensity for impulsive criminal conduct.”
Strauss-Kahn is currently under 24 house arrest under the surveillance of an armed guard and must wear an electronic ankle monitor. He is staying at a TriBeCa townhouse currently valued at just under $14 million.
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