When-You-Need-Cheap-Labor-Can-You-Contact-the-Human-Trafficking-Labor-Pool.jpg (4297×2317)If you have a slave working for you, you can really lower your labor costs. According to theVerite-Humanity United Fair Labor Worldwide Report (Pdf),”

“an underground system of labor brokerage consists of substantial well-organized companies in the labor supply chain. This system for the recruitment and hiring into the labor ‘supply chain’ increases the vulnerability of migrant workers, adding them into various forms of forced labor once on-the-job.”

The migrant workers are often deceived by the brokers into undertaking a debt in order to pay recruitment fees and deceived about the kind of work they will be doing. The debt-bondage kind of slavery, according to slavery international,

“is probably the least known form of slavery today, and yet is the most widely used method of enslaving people.”

In some markets, there is a government imposed limit on recruitment fees, but these limits are rarely enforced. Workers find themselves in a foreign country with formidable recruitment debt and possibly ancestral family property hanging in the balance. The work visa he or she holds ties him or her to one employer and a job that doesn’t remotely resemble the salary and conditions that were promised by the labor broker. This is the “hiring trap.”

Near and Far Eastern Slavery.

Adolescent girls (14 to 17 years old) are trafficked into indentured servitude in the apparel manufacturing industry in India. They commonly work 12 to 15 hours a day, exposed to hazardous chemicals and other hazards, kept isolated from the outside world. They are contracted to work far from home for three years to receive a lump-sum payment of $750. They are recruited by brokers who fill orders for labor vacancies.

In Indonesia and the Philippines, brokers recruit workers for the IT factories in Taiwan and Malaysia.  A system of brokers sub-contracting workers puts workers at particular risk. Workers who cannot afford the recruitment fees are required to take out loans under onerous terms.

Brokers often offer free labor to employers, requiring high fees from the workers themselves. Brokers operate in a difficult business environment, asked by employers to provide a pool of three-times more workers than needed within short time periods.

Guatemalan, Mexican, and Thai Migrants for the U.S. Agricultural and Domestic Sector.

Brokers extract large fees from migrant workers even before they enter the United States. Fees charged by brokers range from a few hundred dollars to $25,000 among undocumented workers and workers under the H2A and H2B guest worker visa programs. Money lenders attached to the brokers charge up to 20 percent monthly interest on unpaid fee balances. The report found that once in the United States workers are threatened with deportation and confiscation of family land as well as violence against themselves and family members. Some studies find that the more fortunate workers may receive 60 percent of a legal minimum wage.

There were 1,067 labor trafficking cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in 2016. Of that number, 18 percent were working as domestics, 12 percent were in the agricultural sector, 9 percent were described as being in “traveling sales crews,” 7 percent were in the restaurant or food services industries, and 4 percent were in the health and beauty services industry.

Human trafficking for labor tends to occur in the agricultural hub areas of California, Texas, and Georgia. The US justice department estimates that between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into these areas every year. The Global Slavery Index (2018) estimates (using 2016 figures)  that on any given day there are over 400,000 people living in the United States under conditions of labor slavery.

The value of the forced labor slavery trade is hard to calculate. Does that figure mean, how much money do the operatives of the business make, or does it mean how much do employers save or how much labor do the slaves generate in terms of wages they do not receive? However, pushed for a figure, the number is estimated at $150 billion “today,” up by a factor of 3.2 since 2005. Time Magazine calls it a “growth business.”

Aiman-Smith & Marcy is a high-performance, boutique law firm committed to eradicating unethical business practices that large corporations too often inflict 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