By Steve Weller and John A. Martin, Center for Public Policy Studies
- the legal rights and protections of labor trafficking victims;
- the characteristics of labor trafficking-involved cases and how they might appear in state courts; and
- strategies for identifying and assisting labor trafficking victims
As concern about human trafficking has grown, attention has been focused more on sex trafficking than labor trafficking although the statistics suggest that labor trafficking is more prevalent. One contributing factor to that disconnect is that labor trafficking is very difficult to identify using current justice system-based approaches, and as a result courts and other justice system organizations often are unaware of the presence of labor trafficking victims in their caseloads. Unlike sex trafficking victims, labor trafficking victims are typically engaged in work that is legal, so they are less likely to come to the attention of the courts as criminal defendants. Further, as the work itself is legal, the existence of trafficking is unlikely to be uncovered unless a victim is willing to come forward to complain and a government official is willing to take action based on the complaint.
The purposes of this chapter are to:
- help judges and court practitioners identify how labor trafficking might appear in criminal, civil, family, juvenile, dependency, probate, municipal ordinance, and other types of cases;
- help judges and court practitioners identify how labor trafficking might appear in other types of forums such as safety, labor, health, licensing, employment and other administrative and regulatory boards and commissions, and how the courts can coordinate with the work of those forums;
- identify possible remedies that labor trafficking victims might have against their traffickers;
discuss what steps the courts can take to assist and protect participants in court whom the judge has reason to suspect may be labor trafficking victims; and
- identify the types of services that labor trafficking victims might require, including immediate and long-term housing, trauma-informed care, and sustainable jobs, and what the courts can do to assist victims in accessing those services.