Sep 15, 2016 SACRAMENTO) Assembly Bill !978, authored by Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez (D-AD80) was signed into law by Governor Edmund Brown. “These women are working hard to provide for their families, yet working in the shadows has allowed sexual harassment and assault to become part of their jobs,” said Gonzalez. “At the very least, we owe these women the tougher rules and protections provided by AB 1978 that match the threat they’re facing every night shift.”
Under Assembly Bill 1978, the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) would create required sexual harassment and sexual violence prevention training materials and require employers to post and display a notice with information regarding the laws. DIR would also create a janitorial contractor registry which will add transparency and increase accountability, similar to garment manufacturers, farm labor contractors, and the car washing and polishing industry
Reporting San Diego has spoken to local janitors, who have told us stories of fear at the job site. Many of those affected are recent immigrants who are taken advantage of on the job site. The risks for night janitorial crews were also uncovered by the PBS Frontline series “Rape on the Night Shift” This was done with Univision, KQED, the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley and “Reveal” from the Center for Investigative. Moreover, a recent lawsuit against ABM Janitorial Company by 21 women resulted in a judgement against the company. It failed to protect them against sexual harassment and assault. This led to a $5.8 million settlement in 2010.
The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 8 percent of all rapes occur while the victim is working, and that about 50 workers a day are sexually assaulted or raped on the job. Rape and sexual assault were reported to police at the lowest percentage (24 percent) when compared to other violent crimes in the workplace. Research has found that more than one third of these workplace victims lost more than 10 days of work after the crime.
AB 1978 is coauthored by Assemblymembers Nora Campos (D-San Jose), Kansen Chu (D-Milpitas), Cristina Garcia (D-Downey), Patty Lopez (D-San Fernando), Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), Freddie Rodriguez (D-Chino), Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), Tony Thurmond (D-Oakland), and Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), and Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose). It is sponsored by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) of California and Equal Rights Advocates.