Close-up Of Sexual Harassment Complaint Form With Pen At Desk

Janitorial workers are often the victims of sexual assault or harassment while on the job — much of which can be attributed to the fact that these workers often work alone. But a few states across the country are instituting measures that they believe will further protect janitors and other cleaning service providers.

Washington passed a bill in early 2019 that will require businesses to provide panic buttons to isolated workers. In California, a new law was implemented Jan. 1 in an effort to protect the people (often women) who clean offices alone at night. Changes to that law have recently been made to further improve upon that bill installed in the Golden State.

Recently signed by Gov. Gavin Newson, AB 547 changes California’s labor code a bit so that janitors will be trained on sexual harassment and assault in a different manner than most professions, reports The Press-Enterprise.

In many office settings and other workplaces, sexual harassment training is usually given by an attorney, outside consultant, or human resources department. However, AB 547 will ensure that janitors employed by building service contractors will receive their sexual harassment training from current and former janitors who have been certified to train on the topic. The hope is this training will be more impactful because those receiving the education will better be able to trust and relate to those providing the lessons.

“Women who work as janitors are almost exclusively immigrants who don’t speak English,” says Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, in The Press-Enterprise’s report. “They’re fearful because of their immigration status. And many get raped because they’re working alone in an office building in the middle of the night.”

The new training standards will go into effect Jan. 1, 2021.