Hard work is one thing, but working too hard for fear of the consequences is different. COVID-19 has amplified the pressure that individuals feel to keep a paying job, even if the conditions aren’t the best. However, it has also amplified the fear of individuals trapped in human trafficking for labor.
You may be a victim of human trafficking for labor if you are currently experiencing any of the following personal or professional stresses.
You Are Socially Cut-Off from People Outside Your Workplace
There is nothing wrong with enjoying the company of co-workers even after your shift has ended. It’s another thing entirely to be deprived of having a social life outside of work because of pressure or coercion from your employers. You should be able to exercise the freedom to meet people and have normal relationships outside the workplace, and if you aren’t being allowed that it is likely a sign of something bad. It could mean that your employer is trying to keep you from communicating with ‘outsiders’ who may enlighten you to the problems with your work situation or provide you assistance.
Your Employer Provides Your Housing, and the Conditions Are Poor
Housing contracts that are connected to your job are not entirely uncommon. They also aren’t illegal. However, if your employer has included your housing as part of your work contract and the living conditions are so poor that they’re inhumane then that’s not acceptable. Proper amenities like clean water, a home with structural integrity, general safety, and cleanliness are all basic human rights and should be included. Also, you should always have the option to break or modify this aspect to your contract—without it resulting in loss of employment.
Your Employer Adds Unreasonable Charges to Your Rent or Pay Deductions
This is a telltale sign of labor trafficking. You should be given due compensation for the work that you provide. If your employer is taking money from you under the guise of unreasonable fees or false damage claims, that’s stealing. This also applies if they are overcharging you for the housing that they are providing you as part of your contract. It is grounds for legal action.
You Keep Working for Your Current Employer for Fear They Will Deport You
Your employer does not have the power to deport you, no matter what they say. The state of California provides due process of law to people even if they are not legal citizens of the United States. This means that if you are not a citizen, your basic human rights are still under protection. You still have the right to safety, fair treatment, and proper financial compensation for labor. If your employer is making deportation threats, this is a huge red flag.
You Fear That if You Ask for Better Treatment, Your Safety and Wellbeing Will Be Threatened
No one has the right to make your health or safety feel threatened without cause, especially not an employer. One who is doing so is simply out to control or manipulate you. If you have raised concerns about your poor working conditions, or over poor wage compensation, and your employer has made threats to your physical health and safety, that is illegal. It is a sign that you are being treated like property, rather than an employee.
It’s Time to Get Help
California has the most human trafficking victims of any state in the United States. The majority of those victims are from other countries, but some are natives to the United States themselves. If you believe that you are a victim of human trafficking for labor, it may be time to seek professional counsel from the professionals at Aiman-Smith & Marcy. They are licensed California attorneys that specialize in employment fraud, and they are strongly dedicated to protecting employees from being taken advantage of by unfair business practices.