Over the past few years, several news outlets have highlighted a concern in the janitorial industry. Specifically, the news stories discussed a high rate of sexual harassment in the industry, especially among workers who handled cleaning duties during evenings and nights in mostly empty offices or buildings. One woman in California sued her former company after she claimed she was raped when working at night.
The woman reportedly claimed that a supervisor raped her while she was cleaning a building in California. The woman was later fired from the company. She alleged that the company fired her because she spoke up about the sexual harassment; if true, that would have been considered retaliation, which is not legal.
Reports indicate that the company did review the woman’s complaint, which alleged a rape in 2004. The company reportedly found her claims were not conclusive enough for action, but later the woman was awarded over $800,000 by a jury in her lawsuit. The jury reportedly noted that it agreed the company retaliated against the woman and that the company did not keep her safe.
After an appeal of the case, the company reportedly settled with the woman. The details of the settlement are confidential, but reports are that the company is allowing outside review of its practices as a result of the settlement. The outside review is reportedly meant to add additional oversight layers that might provide additional protection for employees who are working for the company.
Workers in any environment deserve some expectation of safety, and all workers have a right to report issues without fear of retaliation. If you believe you have been retaliated against or are dealing with a hostile work environment because of sexual harassment, then you likely have a case for some type of legal action.
Source: KQED: The California Report, “Largest Janitorial Company Agrees to Reform Response to Sexual Abuse,” Andrew Donohue, Dec. 10, 2015