What-Makes-Human-Trafficking-for-Labor-Possible.jpg (2149×1159)The word “Labor” can mean a whole range of different things. Often when people who are under great economic pressure are offered a job, they wake up to find the word means something very different from what they expected. Victims of human trafficking are often lured by false promises of a lucrative job, stability, education, marriage, or other beautiful enticements. Once foreign nationals enter the country they are relieved of travel documents and must live in facilities provided by their captors. They then lack the legal identity and any means of escape.


Human beings who are trafficked can come from any walk of life. However, circumstances that make people vulnerable are especially attractive to traffickers: runaways and homeless young people, victims of domestic violence, sexual assault victims, people facing the scourge of war for whom life is very hard, persecuted minority members who face dangers and isolation.

Many victims of human trafficking have made promises to pay large amounts of money to “agents” who promised to help them illegally immigrate. Then, when they can’t pay, they become indentured and have to work off the fees or face threats. Traffickers manipulate their victims by threatening to report them to immigration authorities or by taking away their work visas or other documents. They take advantage of the non-portability of documents and their victims’ ignorance of law, human rights, labor law, culture and poor language fluency.

Victims are often imprisoned in their dwellings and frequently moved about to keep them from learning the environment. They are deprived of the ability to communicate with family and are often isolated from each other as well.

The traffickers often share the cultural and national identity of their victims. They can be lone operators or parts of large international criminal organizations. Traffickers sometimes develop contracts with factories, farm owners, small business owners or people looking for domestic servants, as well as restaurants, or even family members. Their common thread is their willingness to exploit and torture vulnerable human beings.

Anti-trafficking law.

Labor trafficking is a crime in the United States. U.S. law regards human trafficking as slavery. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 initially provided for prevention, protection and prosecution prongs of approach to the issue. The TVPA has been updated 5 times since 2000. Importing people for labor and employing physical force, fraud, coercion, or debt bondage to prevent escape is a federal crime in the U.S. The crime is punishable by prison terms up to 20 years and life imprisonment if the crime includes kidnapping, sexual abuse, causing death, or other aggravating factors.

The crime of human abuse through human trafficking is also a legal labor law matter because the practices inevitably violate labor protections like the Piece-Rate Compensation and Wage Statement requirements which went into effect on January 1, 2016.

Worldwide slavery practice.

In 2017 there were 1,249 labor trafficking cases reported in the United States. This represents a major jump in the number of cases. In the 10 years between 2007, the cases numbered 6,656 (or about 656 cases per year). The three most populous states, California, Texas, and Florida reported the most cases. The five largest states reported 45 percent of the total cases. Three -quarters of the cases (74 percent) were adults. Two-thirds (63 percent) were foreign nationals. More than half (56 percent) were females.

Labor trafficking largely targets people who are marketable as laborers, not children. The trafficking is largely imported from one country to another. Estimates are that 21 million people are victims of forced labor yearly. China may be the worst offender with nearly 12 million (11.7 million). Africa reported nearly 4 million (3.7 million) cases. Russia reported 1.6 million cases. Even Canada reported 1.5 million cases.

The females who are trafficked are disproportionately (99% of the victims) employed in sex trafficking. Females represent only a slight majority (58 percent) in other industries.


Labor trafficking is becoming more widespread or commonplace and it is a deeply ethical problem that destroys the lives of millions of people around the world and, perhaps, tens of thousands in the United States. Legal action against perpetrators is only affected a small proportion of the crimes.

Aiman-Smith & Marcy is  committed to eradicating unethical business practices  too often inflicted on employees, consumers, and businesses. Our practice is dedicated to upholding your rights. Please contact us to learn more.

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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