A bill that would have expanded California sexual harassment training for janitorial companies and their uniquely vulnerable workers was vetoed by the governor, who urged sponsoring lawmakers to give the state and employers more time to fully implement the 2016 janitorial worker sexual harassment legislation, which is still getting off the ground.
Approval of AB 2079 would have meant that required janitorial firms provide sexual harassment training for supervisors and employees that would extend far beyond watching a boiler-plate video and signing a form. They’d hear from actual survivors of sexual abuse and sexual harassment in the California janitorial industry. They would also be given encouragement and more information on their legal options to hold abusers and workplaces accountable.
Although some of the most highly-publicized accounts of sexual assault and sexual harassment spurred the #metoo and #TimesUp began have been told by employers in elite industries (proving sexual harassment and abuse are pervasive everywhere), Los Angeles sexual harassment attorneys and other worker advocates know janitorial workers, agricultural employees, home health care and hospitality workers are at high risk. The primary risk factor is power disparity between victim and abuser. Women, those earning low wages, people of color, immigrants – all of these individuals start off at higher risk. Immigrants especially can face language and cultural barriers that can lead to fear of deportation, cultural barriers and a misunderstanding of their rights and what will happen if these offenses are reported. Now factor in the isolation, overnight shifts and lack of regulatory oversight that are so integral to the industry, and it’s not hard to see why these employees are at such high risk for abuse. Continue reading