Assembly OKs bill allowing hotels to evict verbally abusive guests
STATE HOUSE – The General Assembly today approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Frank A. Ciccone III and Rep. David A. Bennett to allow hotels to evict guests who verbally abuse or threaten hotel staff or other guests.
The legislation (2022-S 2511Aaa, 2022-H 7910A), which now goes to the governor, was requested by the hospitality industry to protect staff and guests as incidents of attacks and abuse toward service workers have risen in Rhode Island and elsewhere.
“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).
Said Representative Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston), “Workers in the hospitality industry have endured a lot during the pandemic, from being out of work for months, to working in close proximity to travelers and under stressful conditions while COVID was still raging. They should not have to endure abuse on top of it. Ensuring that there can be consequences for abuse will protect them.”
Current law allows hotels to eject guests who refuse to pay, are obviously intoxicated, destroy or threaten to destroy hotel property, are engaging in underage drinking or illegal substance use, have brought dangerous property such as firearms or explosives to the property, or violate posted hotel rules.
The legislation adds verbal abuse and physical threats toward employees or other guests to the list of offenses that could result in eviction. It also allows hotels to post their rules online rather than on guest room doors, and allows them to refuse admission to those under 18 who are not accompanied by an adult.
The legislation includes a provision to prevent it from being used as a pretext to discriminate against a guest on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age, or country of ancestral origin.