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Ask an Expert: Why don't all doormen open doors?

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Q. Why don't all doormen open doors? Isn't that their job?

A. This is probably a case of mistaken identity, say our experts.

"Typically, 'doormen' who don't open the doors are technically not doormen but security guards," says real estate broker and asset manager Roberta Axelrod of Time Equities

Security guards are usually hired through security companies as independent contractors; they are paid much less than a doorman and have significantly fewer responsibilities. For instance, they don't take packages, lift strollers or hail a taxi. They may not even announce guests.

Doorman, meanwhile, are typically employees of the building and members of the union...which is a big reason why security guards do very little, says Axelrod.

"In a union building, if a security guard were to open the door, he would be considered to be performing the function of a doorman and therefore be required to be a union employee," she explains.

If the attendant in question is a bona fide doorman, says Axelrod, they should be opening the door--and if they're not, blame it on "poor supervision," she says. 

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