SIGNS, SIGNS, EVERYWHERE are human trafficking awareness signs, and for good reason. An increasing number of states are passing laws requiring hotels to put the signage up around their properties, according to a report from anti-trafficking organization ECPAT-USA.
Funded by the American Hotel and Lodging Association Educational Foundation, the report, “Unpacking Human Trafficking: A Survey of State Laws Targeting Human Trafficking in the Hospitality Industry”, gives a state-by-state assessment of signage requirements. ECPAT-USA and AHLEF also are providing material to help hotels comply with their state’s laws.
“Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for every company in the hospitality industry to comply with the growing number of state laws by giving them one place to find out what is required in each state and to find the materials they need,” said ECPAT-USA Director of Private Sector Engagement Michelle Guelbart.
The difficulty is in the variety of laws that are rapidly being created. Some laws require hotels to display human trafficking awareness posters and signs with hotline numbers for reporting. Other states also mandate training for employees to recognize the signs of human trafficking. Still other states don’t mandate the training but will provide educational material.
According to the report, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia have laws mandating human trafficking awareness signage. Alabama, Arkansas, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island mandate human trafficking awareness signage in lodging facilities that have been cited as a public nuisance, according to the report.
Meanwhile, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin have voluntary human trafficking awareness signage in lodging facilities. Another 14 states have penalties for failing to meet the human trafficking awareness signage mandates. They are Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and South Carolina.
California, Connecticut, Minnesota and New Jersey have statutes mandating training on human trafficking prevention for lodging industry workers. Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont have voluntary training laws for workers.
“Human trafficking is a serious, international issue, and our industry, along with others in the travel and tourism industries have an important role to play in combating trafficking networks,” said AHLEF President Rosanna Maietta.
Human trafficking has been a major issue for the American Hotel and Lodging Association and AAHOA. In January, both organizations and some hotel companies observed National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, during which they reviewed their protocols for identifying and preventing human trafficking.