Updated: Protecting Women Essential Workers’ Rights through COVID

January 21. 2021

Maria Paramo, former ABM janitor & ERA client
Janitorial worker client & changemaker, Maria Paramo


Lawsuit update: In an ongoing commitment to protecting the rights of essential women workers during the pandemic, our attorneys are close to finalizing an agreement in a large sexual harassment lawsuit on behalf of women janitorial workers.

In this groundbreaking lawsuit, we are partnering with our clients  immigrant women whose jobs included cleaning medical facilities — to secure a life-changing amount of monetary compensation for abuses they suffered on the job, including sexual harassment and assault, retaliation, blacklisting, and more. 

We are also partnering with our clients to identify necessary changes to the large employer’s policies and practices to prevent and respond to future sexual harassment of janitorial workers on the night shift. This worker-led lawsuit will protect countless other janitorial workers from sexual harassment.

The lawsuit is part of Equal Rights Advocates’ multi-pronged effort to support women of color essential workers and their families during the pandemic, which also includes:

  • We reached resolutions in two separate lawsuits representing multiple pregnant frontline workers — grocery workers and airport security workers — who were denied reasonable, doctor-required workplace accommodations for their pregnancy, such as short sitting breaks, putting their health at risk. Watch airport security worker Candice share her story in this short video.
  • ERA also pushed on the policy front. Legislative wins from this year’s Stronger California Agenda (a blueprint for other states and federal legislation) address the ongoing needs of low-income families that have been highlighted and exacerbated by the pandemic by advancing equal pay; expanding access to the state’s Paid Family Leave system, granting more workers the ability to care for a sick family member or new child; increasing robust protections against retaliation for those who report workplace violations; and ensuring more equitable access to tax credits for immigrant taxpayers without documentation. Learn more.
  • To center and organize those who have been most impacted by COVID-19, as well as ongoing gender and racial injustice, ERA launched our New American Majority Telephonic Town Hall series to reach 50,000 Black and Latinx women and families across the country. We listened and learned about their priorities for 2021 in order to guide our legal work and policy recommendations. ERA worked with the Black Women’s Roundtable on the first in this ten-city series in Mississippi, followed by sessions with other partners in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Newark.
  • We created a resource hub of COVID related guides, FAQs, toolkits, reports, and more for workers, students, and parents. The resource hub features helpful resources from partner nonprofits, as well as ERA-created resources such as our Coronavirus and Title IX Guide for students, and our Cyberbullying & Online Sexual Harassment Guide for parents.

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Posible que podamos proveer ayuda legal por gratis por los siguientes problemas en el trabajo o la escuela: discriminación basado en el género o por LGBTQI+, acoso sexual, asalto sexual, y discriminación basado en el embarazo o por ser padre/madre.


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