Human-Trafficking-for-Labor-What-You-Dont-Know-Will-Surprise-You-ASM-Lawyers.jpg (2149×1159)Human trafficking news used to be all about human sex trafficking, but today we are learning that more and more commercial farms, restaurants, bars, and food trucks are trafficking humans for labor. Human trafficking for labor didn’t just start to happen, however. For a long time its victims have taken a backseat to victims of human sex trafficking. So, while law enforcement was looking in the sex trafficking direction, labor traffickers were able to build their empires on the backs of underpaid, mentally and emotionally abused, immigrants. These immigrants are smuggled into the United States and promised fair pay, piece-rate compensation, housing, and freedom.  

Little to their knowledge, they are being manipulated into coming to the U.S, only to be taken advantage of and then blackmailed by traffickers until their “debt” is paid off. Their families are threatened, as well as their lives and their ability to stay in the United States. Unfair deductions come out of their paychecks (if they even get one), and they are housed in cramped and pitiful conditions. Many do not speak any English, so they cannot ask for help or even give signs to customers that they are in trouble. Nail salons, commercial farms, and commercial restaurants are some of the larger perpetrators, but even with this information, law enforcement cannot prove labor trafficking as easily as they can prove sex trafficking and that only helps keep what is happening, quiet. 

 Human trafficking for labor is not reported as often as human trafficking for sex, and even when it is, it’s not prosecuted as swiftly and justly as sex trafficking. Experts believe this is because when a civilian hears of sex trafficking, they think of children and terrible circumstances surrounding forced sex. What society doesn’t realize about trafficking for labor is that children are also being smuggled into the U.S for labor, and forced to pay back “debts”. In 2014, eight minors were rescued in a raid on a trailer park and they were found to be contracted by a third party to one of the largest egg farmers in the country (PBS). Civilians might also be more easily able to identify a victim of sex trafficking, than identifying a victim of labor trafficking. The victims of labor trafficking are people you wouldn’t expect to be victims. Waitresses at your favorite Chinese restaurant who can only smile and ask what kind of soda you want, or the women who do your nails at the salon each week and only know enough English to take basic instruction on how you want your nails done, or the fry cook at the local food truck who you never speak directly to. To the untrained eye, these people would seem like they belong here, and some of them do. Some of them are choosing to be in America and are being paid fairly. Sadly though, until we know more and can distinguish how to properly tell the willing from the unwilling, human trafficking for labor will remain a social problem in need of experts to study it, and then teach our law enforcement how to attack it.   

At Aiman-Smith and Marcy, we fight for Americans workers and civilians who have been taken advantage of by large corporations and need an extra leg to stand on. In California, victims of human trafficking have rights and they are protected, regardless of what their bosses will say to them to keep them quiet. If you know of someone, or you are someone who is in need of legal help in relation to employment, fraud, or class action suits please contact us.

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Lisseth Bayona


Education and Background

I am a Los Angeles native and daughter of Salvadorian immigrants. From an early age, my parents instilled the value of hard work and education in me and my two siblings. Their perseverance enabled each of us to graduate from college and earn professional degrees.

My interest and commitment to workers’ rights have roots in my parents’ experiences as undocumented workers in Los Angeles. Witnessing the challenges they faced inspired me to pursue a career where I can help individuals confronted with similar struggles. To help someone in those moments is very satisfying. I love connecting with people and learning about their stories. I believe that dignity in the workplace is a right of all workers, not a convenience or privilege reserved for employees of a certain race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Legal Experience

I received my J.D. from the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law. While there, I served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Patrick J. Walsh of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where I drafted a criminal judicial opinion. Also, while at Gould, I served as an extern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. As a Criminal Division Extern, I had the opportunity to work closely with a trial team of Assistant U.S. Attorneys on a money laundering case which further sparked my interest in litigation.

Personal Interests

In my free time, I enjoy urban vegetable gardening, traveling, and spending time with my nephew and niece. I also love to spend time at San Onofre Beach learning to surf, although admittedly, I am not very good.



Hallie L. Von Rock

Attorney (SBN 233152)

Education and Background

I moved to the Bay Area from Washington after graduating high school. I had been accepted to UC Berkeley through a program where I could defer for two years while getting my California residency and attending community college, which was significant since I was paying for college on my own. I began working for Randall Aiman-Smith and Reed Marcy in 1996 as an office manager while taking night classes. My first foray into the legal world was soon after starting at the firm when I was ready to transfer to UC Berkeley. Rather than accepting my resident status, the Board of Regents took the position that California residency required a student to be in California “two calendar years.” Randall and Reed took up my case with the same verve as they helped their actual clients and I got the chance to comb through the UC Berkeley library to read their codes and regulations to support my position. In that experience, I learned what is was like to feel helpless against a big organization and then to have dedicated attorneys in my corner to take up my cause.

After a break to pursue my major in art history, I went to UC Hastings College of Law and continued working with Randall and Reed. Having worked together now for over 25 years, we have a unique ability to work collaboratively and finish each other’s sentences. I have strived throughout my career to make a difference in the lives of our clients. At the end of the day, if I am helping someone to get compensation for losses they suffered, then I know that all the work put into a case has been worth it.

Legal Experience

I have extensive experience in civil litigation and class action cases, including conducting discovery and depositions, calculating damages analysis, preparing motions for certification, writing appellate documents, and overseeing claims administration. We have handled several class actions against retailers where plaintiffs claimed they were forced to purchase clothing to wear to work and were not compensated for these purchases, including against Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, Uniqlo, Dollar Tree, and Ross. Recently, I was trial counsel in a defamation claim against Bank of America on behalf of a former employee who claimed the Bank blacklisted her with future employers. The jury found Bank of America liable, including for punitive damages.

Personal Interests

Aiman-Smith & Marcy has sponsored me in the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon. When I race, I often wear a “Rockstar Ronan” shirt to support research for childhood cancer through The Ronan Thompson Foundation.


University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1999

Hastings College of the Law, University of California, J.D., 2004

Randall Aiman-Smith

Abogado (SBN 124599)

Aiman-Smith & Marcy. Oakland consumer fraud attorneys.

Educación y antecedentes

Fui afortunado. A pesar de no haber terminado la escuela secundaria o la universidad, pude -aunque con mucho trabajo- ser admitido y sobresalir en una de las mejores escuelas de derecho del país: La Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Berkeley. Mientras estuve allí, tuve el privilegio de ser editor de la California Law Review y miembro del Moot Court Board, asesorando en la redacción de escritos y en la defensa de apelaciones a otros estudiantes. Después de salir de la escuela de derecho, en mis primeros años de práctica, enseñé la escritura legal y la defensa de apelación en la Universidad de California, Hastings College of the Law. También, a lo largo de los años, he sido presentador en eventos de educación legal continua.

Experiencia legal

He sido abogado durante 35 años. He dedicado mi práctica exclusivamente a representar a empleados, consumidores e inversores en los tribunales estatales y federales de primera instancia y en los tribunales de apelación. Me gusta ir a los tribunales por mis clientes y he llevado muchos casos con jurado en los tribunales estatales y federales.

¿Ejemplos? En 2010, fui la abogada principal, junto con los otros abogados del bufete, en el caso Williams v. Union Pacific Railroad donde, después de cuatro años de preparación, el bufete obtuvo un veredicto del jurado de 1.670.000 dólares para una empleada afroamericana. En Rivero v. Surdyka, fui el abogado principal en el juicio y la apelación de un caso de derechos civiles que duró 15 años, incluyendo un juicio completo y tres apelaciones al Noveno Circuito, concluyendo finalmente con una sentencia para los demandantes de más de 2.300.000 dólares. Estos casos ilustran el lema del bufete: compromiso – resultados. Hay que comprometerse con un caso, a veces durante mucho tiempo, para obtener el resultado que el cliente merece.

No siempre ganamos en el juicio. Cuando eso ocurre, el compromiso significa llevar el caso al siguiente nivel y recurrirlo. En el caso Rivero, antes mencionado, eso fue lo que ocurrió: el tribunal desestimó el caso -habíamos perdido- pero apelamos y conseguimos una victoria para nuestros clientes que mantuvimos a través de dos apelaciones más. Desde entonces, el bufete ha conseguido muchas victorias en apelación que reivindican los derechos de los empleados y los consumidores.

A lo largo de los años he sido abogado de los demandantes en numerosos casos individuales y acciones colectivas. Puede sonar cursi, o difícil de creer, pero después de todo este tiempo, y después de todas las grandes experiencias que he tenido, mi parte favorita de ser abogado es cuando consigo dar un cheque a mi cliente.



Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de California, Berkeley, J.D., 1986