Boost for Janitors as Historic Law is Passed

On September 15th, 2016 California Governor Jerry Brown  signed into law a bill that established protection against harassment and sexual violence for custodial staff in the workplace.

With janitors staging a hunger strike outside the state Capitol to support the bill that would increase workplace protection against sexual harassment and sexual assault, Gov. Jerry Brown had no option but to sign the bill into law.

He signed the bill without comment. Nancy McFadden, the governor’s executive secretary, said via Twitter that she “informed the brave women camping outside” that the bill had been signed by Brown. The signing of the bill came only a day before janitors broke their fast.

AB 1978 Janitor Sexual Harassment Training Janitor Cleaning Hallway

Governor Brown of California Signed Into Law AB 1978 To Help Protect Janitorial Workers From Sexual Harassment

The bill, which is referred to as AB 1978, focuses on addressing sexual violence and harassment of victims who are mainly undocumented female janitors working at night in empty buildings and who don’t report for fear of getting deported or losing their job. It was authored by Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego and Assembly Member.

The most notable part of the law is that moving forward workers will have a legal channel to protect them against mistreatment. This puts to rest the enduring fear of victimization for reporting an abuse on the job for hundreds of thousands of property maintenance employees. It also gives the commissioner the power to revoke registration of non-compliant companies.

Thanks to the law, undocumented, documented and naturalized citizens all enjoy protection from abuse and harassment. Further, the law requires that line workers, management and supervisors undergo janitorial sexual harassment training. This will enable them to prevent and monitor such abuses, and they will be tasked with the responsibility of reporting abusive acts toward contractors and employees.

The law seeks to impose civil fines on a person who violates specific provisions of the law. If a janitorial company is found to be operating without being registered, a civil fine may be imposed not exceeding $2,000.

In addition, the bill requires the director of the California Department of Industrial Relations to put in place an advisory committee that will be tasked with designing sexual harassment prevention training programs come 2019. Gonzalez, the bill’s author, said that the training program would address sexual harassment policies and would also educate employees regarding their ability to report workplace violations and at the same time guide them towards available resources.

Finally, the law requires that all janitorial businesses be registered by the labor commissioner annually. It prohibits an employer from operating their business without being authorized by the Labor Commissioner. AB 1978 also gives the commissioner authority to revoke registration under some conditions.

However, the bill doesn’t apply to people whose job responsibilities are mainly final cleanup of grounds, debris and buildings near completion of alteration, demolition, construction, repair work project or installation work project.

What led to the law AB 1978?

A Frontline documentary reported in 2015 that sexual assault, sexual harassment and rape while on job are hidden realities janitorial workers face. The documentary detailed harrowing experiences of janitors being sexually assaulted and raped by their supervisors. To prevent them from reporting, the supervisors threatened to report anyone who informed authorities about the abuse to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Others were threatened with being ignored and even having their credibility attacked in the event they reported this abuse to employers.

AB 1978 was formulated as a response to this reality. The law requires that the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, abbreviated as DLSE establish a requirement for in-person sexual harassment and violence prevention training for both janitorial employers and workers by the start of January 2019.

AB 1978 was signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown after California janitors mounted a spirited campaigns for him to do so. The janitors staged a 5-day hunger strike in front of state Capitol. The group applying the pressure included 18 janitors, the majority of whom are victims of abuse or rape.

Level playing field

“Janitors don’t really have the same opportunity as the rest of the workforce. We know that some industries are characterized by more immigrant women and this puts them at a more disadvantaged situation. This bill is intended to level the playing field and make it easy for anyone to report even if they are an immigrant,” said Gonzalez, the bill’s author.

Gonzalez was motivated to craft the bill after an investigation, done in collaboration with Investigative Reporting Program, known as “Rape on the Night Shift”, exposed the abuses janitors are faced with while working at night. The crimes are often committed by their supervisors. This will no longer be the case in the future because now janitorial workers have a right to report any abuse whether they are documented or not.

How AB 1978 Will Impact Employers

AB 1978 will impact property service employers who employ janitors. This includes any person working as an independent contractor, employee, or even a franchise. The law requires that such employers register with the Labor Commissioner annually and pay predetermined application and renewal fees. Employers will be required by this law to maintain 3 years of records of names and addresses of all employees, number of hours that each employee worked daily, wages paid each payroll period, and the age of all employees.

During registration with the DLSE starting on July 1 2018, employers will be required to provide financial and management information, and demonstrate that they don’t possess certain liabilities such as unpaid taxes and wages. By the start of January 2020, these employers must show full compliance with the new requirement for janitorial sexual harassment training.

The law requires DLSE to create public, online database for registration of employers.  For any employer to conduct business, they have to be registered first.  Any employer who does not register may receive a fine of up to $10,000. Also, any employer who hires an unregistered janitorial employee or contractor may also face fines not exceeding $10,000, with a repeat offense receiving a fine of up to $25,000. In short, any entity which contracts a janitor or janitorial service must ascertain from the database that said employer is registered.

Starting July 1st 2018, employers will be required to give their employees pamphlets containing custodial sexual harassment training content until such a time as DLSE puts in place a more formal training course regarding sexual harassment and violence, which is scheduled to be in place by 1st January 2019.


Mandated 2016 AB1825 Training Year – Get Engaged California!

California 2016 AB1825 Sexual Harassment Training

Get Free 2016 AB1825 White Paper

If you are a California employer with over 50 employees, even if they are in other states or regular contractors, then you should know in 2016 AB1825 is a mandated training year for Sexual Harassment training. The training must be 2 hours long and interactive to be effective. The training can be a webinar or eLearning based but the most effective is live onsite training especially if it’s the first time the company has conducted the training. The training must be content specific in compliance with Section 7288.0. The employer must also keep track of the supervisory training individually or an employer can designate a specific training year for all the supervisors even if it falls short of the 2-year time frame.

2016 AB1825 The California Law And Its’ Consequences

The law was signed into law back in 2005 but became effective in August 2007 under the California Fair Employment and Housing Commission, with serious consequences if an employer meeting the mandated threshold of employees does not comply with the law and train their supervisors as required. Depending on the size of the organization, it is recommended to train all employees with a 1-hour basic training so that the company can document the training being received by the hourly employees and help diminish any potential claims the employee will go through the basics and not just rely on the supervisor to train when time permit or s situation arises.

All California companies with over 50 employees, to include contractors who are mandated and subjected to AB1825 must also include as of January 2015 an amendment to the training AB2053 which is the prevention training of “abusive conduct.” Under this amendment, “abusive conduct” essentially means any conduct of an employer or employee in the workplace, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests. Abusive conduct may include repeated use of verbal abuse, such as the use of profanity, derogatory remarks or comments to an employee or others in the workplace, insults, and epithets, verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating, or any type of sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance. A single act shall not constitute abusive conduct, unless especially severe and egregious. This behavior will obviously trigger a further hostile work environment if allowed to continue without intervention by supervision or human resources personnel. Keep in mind, the amendment did not formally add “abusive conduct” as a protected category under FEHA but only at this time as a training requirement and a method for prevention of such behavior.

Costs Of Sexual Harassment Claims Can Be In The Millions

Sexual harassment claims can cost employers thousands, if not millions of dollars to defend, settle out of or go to trail depending upon the nature of the claim; not to mention the more uncontrolled area of “punitive damages” of which insurance dollars do not cover in most cases. These out-of-pocket punitive damages can bankrupt a company, lead to lay-offs, prevent company growth and cause morale problems among the remaining workforce – again depending upon on the matter is handled and communicated to the employees. The filing of a sexual harassment claim in conjunction with a claim of retaliation against an employee can result in the following “causes to sue for” damages and can be any or all categories covered in a lawsuit;

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Psychological
  • Financial
  • Career forward to retirement & benefits
  • Punitive damages

Employers Can Prevent Sexual Harassment Liability

Sexual Harassment Litigation and 2016 AB1825

Law Room Litigation Scoreboard

Remember, not just in California but in all employer cases, supervisors, managers and their agents are “strictly liable” if they engage in sexual harassment; this also applies to the “knew of should have known ” measurability as well.  With the 2016 AB1825 mandate California employers now have a deadline to get in compliance.

These graphs and case statistics in a Law Room- Litigation Scoreboard review from 3rd quarter 2015, show the trends of employees’ cases and wins in the harassment arena.

Remember, there is no employer liability in a sexual harassment claim if there is no actionable harassment or discrimination according to California court rules and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”). AB1825 is the best preventative and effective training there is for employers in the 50+ employee threshold category but why wait for the magic number to trigger a mandated training, become engaged, at the very least conduct an hour basic training for all your employees to be safe and not sorry. One claim could be a disaster for any company depend8ing on the content and the end verdict.

Title IX Training for All Students and Faculty

Title IX training for sexual harassment

A fourth of all college/university female students are subjected to sexual harassment and or rape

Alarming statistics were revealed stating a fourth of all college/university female students are subjected to sexual harassment and or rape while attending higher education institutions. The highest risk is to freshman students during the “red zone” time period which is considered to be the period from the first day on campus up to the Thanksgiving break when most students have been accepted into a fraternity or club and the initiation phase is somewhat completed. Obviously the report stated that drug and alcohol use are contributing factors to these incidents and most go unreported because the victims feel no one will take them seriously.

Help! An Employee Claims They are Being Sexually Harassed, How Do We Handle It?


This is a common complaint and problem for employers. Employees go to their supervisor or Human Resources (HR) and use the word “harassment”, it gets everyone nervous followed with questions on how to handle it.Many employees use this word to provoke action and the employee is often thinking that any type of offensive behavior is illegal workplace harassment.

Employers Using Social Media To Fire Employees Face Legal Challenges

icon320x320Facebook gaffes that can cause trouble in the workplace aren’t unique to drunken college students anymore. As more companies and their workers tap into the world of blogs, Twitter and Facebook, employers are tripping over legal potholes in social media.

Next week a National Labor Relations Board judge will consider whether a medical-transportation company illegally fired a worker after she criticized her boss on Facebook, in the federal agency’s first complaint linked to social media.

In another case, workers sued a restaurant company when they were dismissed after managers accessed a private Myspace page the employees set up to chat about work.

Top States for Start-Up High Tech Hiring

Shot of a group of young business professionals having a meeting

Silicon Valley is a no-brainer. But where else in America is hiring at the smallest, scrappiest, biggest-growth-potential companies?

Want to hone your entrepreneurial skills and get a feel for the start-up scene before diving in to found your own company?

Heading out to Silicon Valley to search for a start-up gig is a no brainer, but what if you’re not that excited about West Coast living or are otherwise limited in where you can go? What other places offer you a decent chance of landing a job at a newly born company? Or how about if you’re hiring for your already existant new company. Where will your efforts run up against the most competition?

How To Deal With Office Bullying | Resume Companion

The conflict between two young business men

Office Bullying-We’re All Just Big Kids

Office bullying is an extension of childhood bullying experienced by many of us. It may involve actual abusive behavior and/or language or may have manifest itself in milder forms such as excessive work delegation to the same party. The perpetrators of office bullying may be childhood bullies or childhood victims-turned-bullies with the leverage of having a title within the office. Whatever the case, no justification should be tolerated for their behavior.

Your Business Must Comply with AB 1825 Supervisor Training

iStock_000016016133LargeThe deadline for supervisor training under California AB 1825, the law designed to instruct supervisory employees and managers in the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace is December 31, 2013.

AB 1825 (now codified at Cal. Gov. Code § 12950.1) became law in California on January 1, 2005, and requires all employers with at least 50 employees to provide two hours of classroom, eLearning (Online) or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment prevention to supervisory employees every two years. New supervisors must be trained within six months of being promoted to a supervisory position and, thereafter, every two years as outline in AB 1825.

Sexual Harassment Lawsuits Against LA Prompt Calls For Prevention Training

sexual-harassmentIn the wake of two lawsuits filed against the city, two Los Angeles officials are pushing for all city employees to take sexual harassment training courses.City Council President Herb Wesson and City Councilwoman Nury Martinez introduced a proposal Thursday that would require mandatory sexual harassment prevention training. Currently, just managers take the course. Additionally, the course would have to be taught by an individual, not simply taken online.

The council members also want employees to take a workforce violence training program and are seeking to bolster the city’s Ethic Commission training course.

L.A. pays $1.5 million in racial harassment case

iStock_000034990684MediumThe Los Angeles City Council signed off this week on a $1.5-million payment to a black police officer who said he repeatedly experienced racial harassment and a hostile work environment while working for the Police Department.

Earl Wright, an LAPD officer since 1989, sued the city two years ago, saying he was repeatedly humiliated by co-workers who carried out racial pranks and made derogatory remarks.