Abrahams Proposes Legislation to Require Criminal Background Checks for Certain Hotel and Motel Employees


Compliance with the new legislation would be enforced by Nassau County’s Department of Consumer Affairs.

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Nassau County Legislature Minority Leader Kevan M. Abrahams.

Photo by: Office of Nassau County Legislator Kevan M. Abrahams

Mineola, NY - February 7, 2019 - Nassau County Legislature Minority Leader Kevan M. Abrahams (D - Freeport) was joined by Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder and representatives from The Safe Center LI and the Crime Victims Center at Parents for Megan’s Law to unveil new legislation that will require hotel and motel operators to conduct criminal background checks on any employees that will have access to guest rooms as part of their employment.
During a Thursday, Feb. 7 press conference, Legislator Abrahams said the proposal was inspired by high-profile incidents in which hotel patrons were victimized by staff members.
“Every time someone checks in to a hotel, we take a leap of faith that only responsible individuals will have access to our rooms and sensitive personal data,” Legislator Abrahams said. “To ensure such a high level of access does not fall into the wrong hands, it is essential for Nassau County to mandate background checks so that hotel owners and managers do not inadvertently give a dangerous predator the means to cause great harm.”
Legislator Abrahams’ proposal would require the background checks to be performed by a professional that is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners. Compliance with the new legislation would be enforced by Nassau County’s Department of Consumer Affairs. Failure to comply with the measure would be punishable by a fine of up to $500 for a first violation and up to $1,000 for subsequent violations.
“Legislator Abrahams’ request for local legislation to be enacted to require criminal background checks for motel/hotel employees that have access to individuals’ rooms is a proactive approach to decreasing crimes that are committed by employees,” Commissioner Ryder said. “It is important for guests to feel that their room is safe from intruders whether traveling on business or vacation, as this room becomes an extension of your own home. If we can lower any crime rate by legislation, then we should move forward in a positive direction.”
Laura Ahearn, Esq. Executive Director of the Crime Victims Center and Parents for Megan’s Law, commended Legislator Abrahams for taking proactive measures to protect the public from victimization. 
“Having access to a person’s home away from home is a position of trust.  A thorough background check can protect the public from potential sexual assaults and can also potentially reduce property crimes,” Ahearn said. 
“The Safe Center is grateful for Legislator Abrahams’ proposed law requiring hotel and motel employees with guest room key access to be required to receive a criminal background check,” added Cynthia G. Scott, Executive Director of The Safe Center LI. “As an organization that provides services to victims, we support any effort that can reduce the likelihood of victimization within our community.”
Legislator Abrahams stressed that he is committed to ensuring individuals who have paid their debt to society are able to secure appropriate and meaningful employment. His proposal is designed to narrowly focus on identifying individuals whose employment in a role with guest room access would pose an undue risk to the health, safety and welfare of the public. This legislative proposal was drafted to comply with state and federal statutes that prohibit discrimination based on a person’s criminal record.