Numerous female janitors are working hard across the state of California to earn incomes and keep food on their family's tables. Many of these employees are not legally in the country, and not legally permitted to work, meaning that they are extremely vulnerable to exploitation, sexual harassment and even sexual assault. One new labor law in California, which was passed in October, seeks to protect these vulnerable workers.
The new law is Assembly Bill 1978, and it was created in response to situations described in a recent PBS Frontline documentary called "Rape on the Night Shift," which was created in order to bring more awareness to the important and extremely unfortunate issues surrounding the creation of AB 1978.
According to one employee whose story was told in the documentary, her supervisor raped her on the job while she was working as a janitor, then he threatened to report her to immigration authorities if she told anyone about it. The woman said that her supervisor ripped apart her blouse and started to touch her.
Assembly Bill 1978 establishes that businesses will need to create sexual harassment prevention and sexual violence training requirements that apply to employers and employees. In addition, employers and employees will receive sexual harassment pamphlets with information about how to respond to such behavior. Employers will then, by July 1, 2018, need to register with the Labor Commissioner and pay application fees of $500 and annual registration fees of $500. Violations of the act could lead to fines as high as $10,000.
Any California worker who is injured by rape on the job will receive powerful protections from the law -- no matter if the employee is a legal employee of the United States. If you or a loved one has been in injured in this way, you may want to seek out the assistance of an experienced employment law attorney, in addition to local law enforcement authorities.
Source: fox40.com, "Assembly Bill Aims to Protect Female Immigrant Janitors From Sexual Assault," accessed Nov. 03, 2016