When most California residents are heading home after a day’s work, thousands of cleaners report for duty in deserted buildings to ensure the day-workers have clean and dust-free offices to return to in the morning. Workers of janitorial companies are extremely vulnerable, and many of them are exposed to sexual harassment and even rape. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently brought the claims of 21 women to a California court.
The lawsuit was filed against ABM, the largest American janitorial company with almost 65,000 janitors in its employ. It was reported that the company has faced several lawsuits that were filed by janitors nationwide who claimed the company had failed to protect them in their places of work. In the California lawsuit, the EEOC claimed that ABM provided no protection against sexual harassment, allowing the 21 female janitors to be harassed and sexually assaulted by 14 male employees of the company.
Although ABM has procedures in place for handling abuse claims, it failed to follow up reports of a man claiming to have been a witness when a male employee harassed a female janitor. Furthermore, the company failed to investigate anonymous information claiming that the same male employee had a criminal record. The EEOC said that the fact that the worker had prior rape convictions was overlooked because the company failed to check his background prior to employing him.
Providing workplace surroundings that expose employees to sexual harassment and abuse is unacceptable. Victims in California may benefit from the support offered by experienced attorneys who are familiar with employment laws. Lawyers can protect the rights of employees and provide guidance with the filing of EEOC claims.
Source: ww2.kqed.org, “Working Alone, at Night, Janitors Risk Sexual Violence”, Sasha Khokha, June 23, 2015