As of January 1, 2020, California has enacted a very important new regulation for hospitality employers and staff: Mandatory training to identify and assist victims of human trafficking.
The Epidemic of Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is among the most devastating black market industries in the world. Every year, thousands of women, men, and children are forced into labor through trickery, kidnapping, or debt entrapment. They are held in these situations with force and threats and actual physical confinement. Human trafficking occurs in an incredibly wide variety of forms, and not always in those you’d expect including prostitution, forced manual labor, and unpaid domestic servants.
Why the Hospitality Industry?
If there is one single industry that has the greatest chance to notice and save these individuals, it’s the hotel industry. Hotels and motels are frequently used to keep trafficked victims on-the-move so they cannot put down roots, reach out for help, or be detected and rescued. It’s very common to run sex slavery out of a motel or to arrange for semi-anonymous clients to pick up their human purchases in hotels where many people come and go without notice every day.
In particular, sex trafficking is very commonly conducted directly from hotel rooms without the knowledge of the hotel properties. But California is looking to change that.
Those individuals capable of noticing the signs of a human trafficking victim and calling the police are often the very few housekeeping and room service staff who are allowed to see inside the rooms where these victims are kept captive. Front desk staff may also learn how to identify someone who is being brought in against their will, and significant differences in cleanliness or care between two people who seem to be checking in together.
The Hotel Trafficking-Prevention Training Regulations
Starting January 1st, 2020, all hotel and motel staff in California employed as of July 1, 2019 must be given at least 20 minutes of in-depth training every two years in how to identify the signs of human trafficking and what to do if they suspect that a guest, acquaintance, or even a coworker is a victim of human trafficking.
After 2020 begins, every hotel or motel employee with a remote chance of interacting with trafficking victims is required to be given a minimum of 20 minutes training to identify and report human trafficking.
Employees defined as “likely to interact or come in contact” with human trafficking victims includes but is not limited to employees who work in reception, housekeeping, food service, moving possessions, or driving customers.
Human trafficking awareness includes
- The difference between labor trafficking and sex trafficking victims in the hotel sector
- Guidance in identifying people who are most at risk of being trafficked
- The role of hospitality employees in reporting and responding to on-premises trafficking
- Numbers and organizations to contact to report and rescue trafficking victims
Encouragement to Go Beyond Mandated Training and Reporting
The final points of the new bill go on to make sure that hotels are motivated to put as much effort as possible into detecting and reporting human trafficking without penalizing hotels that do not detect a trafficking incident. While hotels are required to provide the mandated minimum training, they are encouraged to train employees in-depth with the materials available so that every member of staff has extensive knowledge on how to detect and rescue a human trafficking victim who is brought on-premises.
Of course, it’s also acknowledged that the nefarious criminals who perpetrate human trafficking do everything they can to keep their victimizations a secret, and mandated training cannot be used to hold hotels liable if trained employees sometimes fail to detect an instance of on-premises trafficking. This way, hotels will confidently report anything they can without fear of reprisal if they do help to uncover an ongoing and previously undetected history of trafficking crimes.
Here at Aiman-Smith & Marcy, our legal team is passionate about protecting the rights of employees and workers, both legally and illegally working in California. Contact us today to find out more about how your hotel can and should be educating staff on human trafficking detection or if you have not been trained but suspect human trafficking and want to help make it stop.