It was supposed to be just another routine job for Patti Cris, who in early 2018 was a contract worker for the home services booking site Handy. She got the key for the San Jose apartment she was scheduled to clean while its occupant was gone, and remembers knocking twice and announcing herself, just to make sure.

But when Ms. Cris opened the door, she said, she was greeted by a naked man who appeared to be waiting for her.

“I’m shocked that he’s naked,” Ms. Cris, 34, recalled. “I felt really violated.”

Cleaners like Ms. Cris often face sexual harassment on the job, but as independent contractors, they lack employers’ protection and are forced to navigate uncomfortable situations alone.

Three Handy cleaners told The New York Times that they had encountered unwanted touching, sexual comments and other harassment while working. They said the problem was worsened by handyman and housecleaning apps like Handy, which have created new avenues for potential harassers to bring victims into their homes but have largely stayed out of disputes between workers and customers.