By Jennifer McGraw

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Sacramento County officials are taking steps to protect hotel workers from sexual harassment and implementing panic buttons.

“They’re subject to this kind of harassment on the daily,” said Gina Longo, who represents workers in the union. “It’s important for us to fight for things that put protections in place for our members.”

The board of supervisors passed an ordinance to require hotels and motels to provide panic buttons for their employees.

“We want to make sure they can go to work every day and feel protected,” she said.

Longo translated many of their stories before the board Tuesday afternoon.

“I feel that it’s not fair that we go to work with fear,” she translated into English.

The workers fear what guests might do to them.

“Basically coming into a room getting ready to clean, guests becoming naked, guests masturbating in front of them,” Longo said. “It’s really disgusting.”

Supervisor Phil Serna shared a Chicago survey that said 58 percent of women who work in hotels had been sexually harassed or assaulted, which is why he asked staff to address the issue at the county level.

In a four to five vote, the ordinance passed with Serna thanking the women who bravely came forward.

“It’s really kind of carried the day as far as impressing upon the board and emphasizing the need for this policy, so again gracias por todo,” he said.

The ordinance also requires hotels to have a guest sexual harassment policy in place to protect its employees.

Similar policies have already passed in Chicago and Seattle. These workers hope to have a blanket policy statewide to help protect them.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg also wrote a letter, according to Serna, that detailed plans for moving forward with a similar ordinance citywide.

Currently, it’s only affecting those in the unincorporated areas of the county.

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