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Rape Victim Strikes Back at Janitorial Industry Giant

January 17, 2020 GMT
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(PRNewsfoto/Kreindler & Kreindler LLP)
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(PRNewsfoto/Kreindler & Kreindler LLP)

NEW YORK, Jan. 17, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- A 20-year-old woman who was raped on the night shift while doing janitorial work in Atlanta in 2018 has now sued her former employer, a giant in the janitorial industry that employs more than 100,000 workers. The employer, ABM Industries Incorporated (“ABM”), headquartered in New York City, is reported to be the nation’s largest such company. The lawsuit was filed on January 10 in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Manhattan.

According to Jonathan Johnson attorney for Aurelia Mancilla, the rape victim, the incident occurred on September 18, 2018, while Ms. Mancilla was working on the night shift cleaning crew for ABM at the Atlanta International Airport. The ABM supervisor who overwhelmed and raped her, a large man of about 270 pounds, had previously served a prison sentence for armed robbery. At the time of the assault, the supervisor was a 47-year-old man whom the victim had not met or been assigned to prior to the incident. Immediately following the assault, the victim reported it to the police who investigated and then arrested the supervisor. The assailant, also a defendant in the lawsuit, is currently incarcerated pending trial.

The rape occurred only a few months after U.S. Senator Patty Murray of Washington State sent a letter to the Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association, expressing her concern about the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. Senator Murray stated in her letter that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has sued ABM repeatedly for mishandling complaints of sexual harassment and assault. One of those cases involved 21 female janitors who had been harassed or assaulted by male supervisors. An investigative report discovered 42 lawsuits in which ABM janitors claimed they had been sexually harassed, assaulted, or raped while on the job.

Johnson noted that PBS Frontline had exposed sexual harassment at ABM with two TV investigative documentaries entitled “Rape on the Night Shift,” the second of which aired just months before the rape of his client. “There is substantial evidence of a persistent, systemic practice of sexual abuse fostered by the corporate culture of ABM and its executives operating from their headquarters in New York,” said Johnson. “The unfortunate victims are women who are laboring on the night shift to help support their families.”

The lawsuit, which alleges assault and battery, false imprisonment and numerous other claims, asserts that ABM has a “malicious, wanton and willful disregard for the safety, respect and dignity of its janitorial workers on the night shift, and continued its cold and callous pursuit of profits over people, resulting in ABM’s rape of Plaintiff through its supervisor.” The complaint cites ABM’s “systematic corporate failure to effectuate an effective policy and practice for preventing sexual harassment and abuse, including rape, of janitorial workers . . .”

According to Kreindler attorney Andrew Maloney, co-counsel representing the victim, “This assault is a vivid illustration of the type of conduct that the ‘me too’ movement is battling to eradicate. Such behavior is intolerable, whether it is from billionaires in the entertainment industry, Wall Street tycoons or corporate giants such as ABM. Our client is one of countless hard-working women who have suffered sexual abuse in the workplace.”

“This has been a life shattering experience,” said Ms. Mancilla. “I hope no other woman ever has to endure being raped at work. This has to be stopped. I couldn’t believe it when I heard this has happened before at ABM. Nobody should ever experience this.”

Ms. Mancilla is represented by the law firms Jonathan W. Johnson LLC of Atlanta and Kreindler & Kreindler LLP of New York.

(Note: A copy of the complaint is accessible here.)

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SOURCE Kreindler & Kreindler LLP