As of January 1, 2018, all janitorial employers in the State of Oregon were required to obtain a license to provide janitorial services. Oregon janitors in SEIU Local 49 filed a lawsuit in September 2019 against Expresso Building Services for failure to obtain a license as a janitorial employer. SEIU alleged that Expresso continued to operate as an unlicensed janitorial contractor in Oregon for nearly 18 months, only applying after receiving an inquiry from state investigators who were following up on an anonymous complaint.
Oregon law also requires anyone who receives janitorial services to inspect and retain a copy of the license of their janitorial provider.
The license requirement ensured that employers complied with new rules to protect front-line janitors, including by providing training to prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault on the job. Many employers immediately complied, and the Bureau of Labor and Industries provided a 6-month grace period for registration, which ended in July 2018. Expresso Building Services waited until May of 2019 – nearly 18 months after they were required to obtain a license – to apply. The suit further alleged that Expresso did not live up to other requirements stated in the law, including by providing clear statements to employees on their agreed-upon wages and working conditions.
After nine months of litigation, SEIU 49 and Expresso Building Services reached a settlement in the suit. Below is SEIU 49’s statement regarding the settlement:
Plaintiff, SEIU 49, filed a lawsuit alleging that Defendant, Expresso Building Services, failed to comply with Oregon’s janitorial licensing statute. Expresso denies SEIU 49’s allegations. The parties agreed to resolve the matter. The settlement includes payment by Expresso of $2,000 in damages, payment of attorney fees, and Expresso’s commitment to compliance with the statute.
In the coming months, Expresso workers are organizing to document their wages, hours, and benefits to ensure that their rights were not ignored while Expresso operated without a license. If workers document violations of the law during this period, Expresso’s clients may be jointly and severally liable for the damages.