Human Trafficking Lawsuits
Our firm is representing victims of human trafficking in lawsuits against hotels, websites, and other businesses that negligently allowed the exploitation to happen and/or profited from it. Victims are now able to sue and get financial compensation from businesses for negligently (or intentionally) facilitating, supporting, or promoting sexual exploitation. On this page, we will define human trafficking, identify the businesses that often facilitate or profit from it, and explain when victims of human trafficking might be able to sue these businesses and get money damages.
Human trafficking is the practice of using force, coercion, or fraud to compel individuals into providing labor or service. Most human trafficking involves sexual exploitation.
A decade ago, the term “human trafficking” specifically referred to the act of illegally transporting individuals into a country for compulsory labor or sexual exploitation. The classic example of human trafficking under this framework was smuggling immigrants into the country and putting them to work in the sex industry.
Today, however, the legal definition of human trafficking has evolved and expanded to include all aspects of the exploitation system. The crime of human trafficking can occur with or without any smuggling across the border. Trafficking humans occurs whenever individuals are forced into servitude by means of threats, fraud, or other methods of coercion.
One of the biggest misconceptions about human trafficking is that the victims of this system are always desperate foreign people from underdeveloped countries. The truth is that almost anyone can become a victim of human trafficking. Well-educated, affluent, American citizens can become victims of human trafficking. However, individuals at the lower end of the socio-economic ladder are much more likely to become victims.
Both men and women can be victimized by human trafficking, although women are much more likely to be victimized. Most estimates suggested that women account for at least 70% of human trafficking victims. Sadly, children are also commonly victimized by human trafficking.
Human trafficking can occur in almost an infinite number of ways. However, the classic and most common form of human trafficking involves transporting victims out of their home country. Victims are often recruited with fraudulent promises of economic opportunities or normal employment arrangements. In some cases, however, victims are forcibly abducted.
After recruitment (or abduction), the victims are then illegally transported into the United States. Once in the U.S., the victims are particularly vulnerable and various forms of coercion are employed to compel them to provide labor or services.
Human trafficking can occur in any industry, but there are certain industries that most victims of trafficking end up in. The industries most frequently associated with human trafficking are:
- Sex Industry: the largest percentage of human trafficking victims end up being forced to work in the sex industry either as prostitutes or entertainers.
- Manual Labor: some victims of trafficking end up being forced to work in manual labor jobs, often for contractors or at factories.
- Agriculture: agriculture is another very common destination for victims of human trafficking, especially in certain areas that require large pools of seasonal labor.
- Hospitality: trafficking victims also can end up working in the hospitality industry at places like hotels or cleaning services.
In the past, victims of human trafficking had very little in the way of legal options. Criminal prosecution of human traffickers has always been very difficult for a variety of reasons. The perpetrators are often elusive and hard to identify and the necessary proof is often difficult to present. In any event, criminal prosecution does nothing to help the victims of trafficking get back on their feet.
Today, however, victims of human trafficking have another legal option: they can file a civil lawsuit against commercial businesses that facilitated or profited from human trafficking and exploitation. Federal state laws now permit victims of trafficking to recover money damages from businesses who financially benefitted from their exploitation. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) gives victims of human trafficking the legal right to bring civil cases against any business or individual that “knowingly benefitted” from participation in trafficking venture.Human Trafficking Lawsuits Against Big Hotel Chains
The new rights created by the TVPRA have given rise to a number of major civil lawsuits brought by victims of human trafficking. Over the last 2 years, lawsuits have been filed across the country by trafficking victims against major hotel companies such as Hilton, Marriott, and Wyndham. These lawsuits are being filed on the grounds that the hotels knew (or should have known) that sex trafficking and exploitation were occurring at their hotels and that they profited from these activities. Some of these lawsuits have resulted in major financial settlements.
Under the new laws, any business or individual can be sued if they financially benefitted from activities that they knew or should have reasonably known to involve human trafficking. This would include businesses who directly and knowingly participated in the exploitation of human trafficking victims for the purpose of financial gain (e.g., brothels, topless bars, massage parlors, pornography websites, adult entertainment companies, etc.).
Defendants can also include businesses that were not directly involved in the exploitation of trafficking victims but looked the other way and received financial benefits from the activities. A classic example of this would be a hotel that fails to report or allows a sex trafficking operation to continue and receive a financial benefit.Contact Miller & Zois About Human Trafficking Lawsuits
Our firm is currently seeking new cases from human trafficking victims. If you were a victim of human trafficking you may be entitled to sue any businesses that financially benefitted from your exploitation. Call our office today for a free consultation to find out if you qualify for a human trafficking lawsuit.