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Night-shift cleaners in California fight sexual harassment

Working alone at night may make anyone vulnerable to many hazards. One group of people who often work alone are night-shift janitors. A woman janitor working alone at night may also have to fear sexual harassment or assault as well as other dangers. A group of women in California is working for more protection for women janitors on the night shift.

The Property Services Worker Protection Act is making its way toward being signed into law. The bill would necessitate special sexual harassment and violence prevention training for employees of janitorial businesses. Custodial firms would face fines if they fail to register with the state for monitoring of sexual harassment reports. Finally, the law would mandate that female janitors work in pairs since working alone is what makes women especially vulnerable to sexual assault.

While the California Chamber of Commerce believes the bill would be costly and difficult to enforce, officers for the janitorial union applaud the efforts. The union is also taking steps to deal with harassment through its contract negotiations. Unfortunately, a recent study reported that many janitorial workers may not admit to being harassed or assaulted because they fear retaliation. Many women custodians in California are also immigrants who may have other reasons for not reporting the attacks.

Women cleaners in California hope that this bill will give those who face sexual harassment on the job confidence to report the crime. More importantly, by complying with the new laws, janitorial businesses can help reduce or eliminate the danger to women on their staff. In the meantime, women who face a hostile work environment may decide to reach out to an attorney to discuss legal options.

Source: revealnews.org, "Janitors on the night shift fight for sexual-abuse protections", Bernice Yeung, June 3, 2016

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