California Enacts New Laws to Combat Human Trafficking
On September 27, 2018, California enacted Senate Bill 970 establishing a minimum threshold for human trafficking awareness training and education in the hospitality industry. Under the law, hotels and motels are required to provide 20 minutes of classroom or other interactive training regarding human trafficking awareness to each employee likely to interact or come into contact with victims of human trafficking. Employees required to receive training are those who have recurring interactions with the public, including those working in the reception area, performing housekeeping duties, helping customers move their belongings, and driving customers.
The human trafficking and awareness training must be completed by January 1, 2020, for all employees hired before July 1, 2019, and within six months of hire for those employed after July 1, 2019. After January 1, 2020, employers must provide training to existing employees every two years and within six months of hire for new employees. The training must include the following information:
- The definition of human trafficking and commercial exploitation of children.
- Guidance on how to identify individuals who are most at risk for human trafficking.
- The difference between labor and sex trafficking specific to the hotel sector.
- Guidance on the role of hospitality employees in reporting and responding to this issue.
- The contact information of appropriate agencies, such as the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free telephone number and text line, and the telephone numbers of the appropriate local law enforcement agencies.
If an employer fails to comply, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing may seek an order requiring compliance.
California also enacted Assembly Bill 2034, which requires hotels, motels, bed and breakfast inns, and several other types of business establishments, to post a compliant notice about slavery and human trafficking. The notice, which must be at least 8 ½ inches by 11 inches, written in 16-point font, posted in English, Spanish, and one other language that is the most widely spoken language in the county where the establishment is located, must state the following:
If you or someone you know is being forced to engage in any activity and cannot leave—whether it is commercial sex, housework, farm work, construction, factory, retail, or restaurant work, or any other activity—text 233-733 (Be Free) or call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or the California Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) at 1-888-KEY-2-FRE(EDOM) or 1-888-539-2373 to access help and services.
Victims of slavery and human trafficking are protected under United States and California law
The notice must also indicate that the hotlines are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, toll-free, operated by nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, anonymous and confidential, accessible in more than 160 languages, and able to provide help, referral to services, training, and general information.
Assembly Bill 2034 also mandates that employers provide a minimum of 20 minutes of training in recognizing the signs of human trafficking and how to report those signs to the appropriate law enforcement agency. The training must be provided to new and existing employees who may interact or come into contact with a victim of human trafficking, or who are likely to receive a report from another employee about suspected human trafficking, no later than January 1, 2021.
If an employer fails to comply, civil penalties of $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent violation may be imposed.