Discrimination Laws Fight Human Trafficking

Prosecutors are using labor and discrimination laws to prosecute human trafficking violations. Robert Canino, an attorney for the EEOC, told the audience at an ABA Annual Meeting program that the EEOC had developed techniques based on civil penalties to combat human trafficking. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), anti-discrimination laws are “an integral part of the fight against human trafficking.” Civil enforcement and litigation of anti-discrimination laws are important to vindicating federally protected rights and obtaining remedies for victims, regardless of whether criminal actions are taken in tandem. Civil remedies have some advantages over criminal remedies as the requirement to prove criminal violations beyond a reasonable doubt in is often difficult since many of these cases contain horrific facts. 

Many labor trafficking cases involve discrimination on the basis of national origin, race and sexual harassment. The human trafficking of workers tends to be a series of violations and sometimes it takes several of them to constitute a trafficking violation–such as withheld wages, excessive deductions from wages, workplace safety, and work hours. In trafficking cases, it is also not unusual for employers to maintain segregated jobs, pay unequal wages, or deduct unreasonable amounts from paychecks in these situations.

In addition, many labor trafficking cases involve sexual exploitation. Trafficked women are sometimes sexually assaulted or subjected to other severe sexual harassment. The EEOC is the federal agency charged with preventing, investigating and remedying sex discrimination, including sexual harassment. According to Canino, sex-workers experience a form of extreme sexual harassment.

If you’ve experienced harassment or discrimination at work, we have the expertise and experience to help: contact The Harman Firm today.