Workplace Harassment Prevention


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The highest incidence of workplace harassment occurs in industries that have large numbers of low-wage workers and a disproportionate number of women, a description characteristic of the cleaning service sector. These workers are uniquely vulnerable to sexual harassment because they work in isolated working conditions with little security, are less likely to be fluent in English, and may be of questionable immigration status. It is these circumstances where power imbalances are often more pronounced, and where fear and reprisals of losing their jobs can deter victims from coming forward.

In fact, the Accommodation and Food Services Sector, which includes housekeeping staff at hotels and residential cleaners, was ranked as having the greatest incidence of sexual harassment claims filed. Additionally, the Administrative and Support Waste Management and Remediation sector, which includes in-house custodial staff, as well as employees of cleaning service contractors, has the fifth largest number of workplace harassment claims.

In response to these trends, states have been enacting laws that require cleaning service providers to register with the state and provide sexual harassment and assault training.

Workplace harassment is an issue of great importance to ISSA, and we are taking on increasingly greater roles in addressing it in the cleaning industry sector. ISSA supports harassment prevention policies that are proven to successfully protect workers and employers. The outcome of such policies should be aimed at bolstering compliance, encouraging incident reporting, and increasing preparedness for all workers. ISSA encourages policymakers to work with industry to come up with workable solutions and avoid imposing overly burdensome regulations and registration fees. As these policies disproportionately hurt small business owners and is a barrier to new entrants. Obtaining licensure also may require materials that are dependent on affordability, such as insurance certifications, as well as materials dependent on legal status, such as tax compliance certifications.

Read more about state-level registration and sexual harassment training requirements.

We now have a senior management team leading the development and implementation of a plan to reduce the incidents of harassment. You can read more about it here.

Learn about what is being done to prevent harassment in the cleaning service provider sector at the federal level, as well as what you can do as an employer here.