Most Los Angeles area residents who work in office buildings likely don’t give much thought to who cleans and vacuums their work areas each night or who punches their parking ticket each evening as they leave work. Throughout California, many of the men and women who are employed as janitors, parking lot attendants and security officers likely receive a paycheck from ABM, a nationwide provider of “facility management services”.
While the company’s website highlights numerous client accolades and success stories, it fails to make mention of at least six known sexual harassment lawsuits that have been filed in California against the company since 2007. During 2007, 21 female employees of the facility services provider were named as plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit filed against the company by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Los Angeles.
More recently, two women came forward to report separate incidences in which both were raped. In one case, the Spanish-speaking female employee was awarded $812,000 after the company failed to report to police or take action when she reported she’d been raped by a supervisor while working.
Upon examining known sexual harassment cases in which ABM is named as a defendant, an employee rights advocate noted a “very disturbing pattern of cases involving really pervasive and or really egregious physical sexual violence”. In another case, a man who was a convicted rapist and sex offender was hired by the company and put in charge of supervising several women. He was later accused of raping one female employee and sexually harassing several more. The company quietly agreed to settle the lawsuit for $5.8 million.
Sadly, the incidents reported here detail just a few of the thousands of acts of sexual violence against U.S. female workers that happen each year. In many cases, women who are in low paying jobs are targeted and many are too fearful to report abuse or are fired for doing so. In an attempt to seek justice and prevent future crimes, women who have been the victim of sexual harassment or sexual violence in the workplace are advised to speak with an attorney.
Source: KIRO-TV, “Immigrant workers say they were raped, told not to call police,” Katie Doptis and Garia Guerrero, May 12, 2014