The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has added information to its website regarding human trafficking. This information is designed to help young workers, employers, and parents to identify signs of human trafficking and to bring awareness to the laws the EEOC enforces regarding human trafficking.
The EEOC released the information now because more youth work during the summer than at any other time of the year. In particular, youth may not be aware of protections in place due to their inexperience in the workforce.
Human trafficking is defined as a crime that involves forcing, pressuring, or tricking an individual to work at or to perform sex acts for something of value.
The EEOC provides several examples of human trafficking which are important to keep in mind, especially as an employer, to ensure that you avoid accidently violating the law. These examples include:
- Refusing to pay employees;
- Paying some employees less than other employees;
- Charging unreasonable amounts of money for food, transportation, housing, or supplies;
- Restricting movement of your employees; and
- Making an employee work instead of going to school.
Additionally, if any of this treatment is due to an employee’s sex, race, or national origin, the employer may be violating federal wage and hour or discrimination laws enforced by the EEOC in addition to the human trafficking concerns.
As a business, there are some simple steps that you can take to ensure you provide a safe and healthy workplace. First and foremost, it’s important to be aware of what qualifies as human trafficking and to ensure your business is not inadvertently engaged in any activity that could be viewed as trafficking. Second, increasing awareness of human trafficking to employees, including managers and executive positions, is important. Simply distributing materials regarding human trafficking sends the message that you’re an employer who cares about the wellbeing of your team. And third, make sure to stay up to date on human trafficking laws and enforcement – we can help with that!
Obviously, the best way to prevent human trafficking is to maintain an informed workforce and to take proactive action to stay on top of the law.