ECPAT-USA, AHLEF Unpack Human Trafficking Laws for Hotel Industry

BROOKLYN, NY—To help lodging companies facing different laws about human trafficking in different states, ECPAT-USA, with the financial support of the American Hotel and Lodging Association Educational Foundation (AHLEF), issued a report titled, “Unpacking Human Trafficking A Survey of State Laws Targeting Human Trafficking in the Hospitality Industry,” detailing what each state requires and providing materials to comply with the laws.

“We know that the hospitality industry is eager to help fight human trafficking, but the many different state laws makes that complicated,” said Michelle Guelbart, Director of Private Sector Engagement at ECPAT-USA. “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.”

AHLEF President Rosanna Maietta added, “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. On behalf of the hotel industry and our member companies, AHLEF is committed to working with engaged partners like ECPAT-USA to support and fund research that can bring us closer to help end these heinous crimes.”

In recent years, an increasing number of states have passed laws requiring lodging facilities to display signage calling attention to the problem of human trafficking and alerting the public to the indications of trafficking, the hotline number to report suspicious activity, and services for victims. These laws take various forms and present a sometimes-confusing array of requirements that present a challenge to owners and operators of lodging facilities seeking to satisfy them.

Similarly, a number of states have enacted legislation requiring lodging facilities to arrange for their employees to be trained to recognize signs of human trafficking and what actions to take in the event that such signs are observed. Other states do not mandate the training but have made it available on a public agency website. Additional states are currently considering similar legislation.

To help clarify the situation and facilitate legal compliance, ECPAT-USA, with the support of AHLEF, unpacked these laws by preparing a survey of all the applicable state laws currently in effect. The survey will be updated on a semi-annual basis to keep up with the constantly changing laws.

Key Findings

  • 13 states have laws mandating human trafficking awareness signage in lodging facilities: California, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia
  • 7 states have laws mandating human trafficking awareness signage in lodging facilities that have been cited as a public nuisance: Alabama, Arkansas, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island
  • 12 states have voluntary human trafficking awareness signage in lodging facilities: Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin
  • 14 states have penalties for failing to meet the human trafficking awareness signage mandates: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina
  • 4 states have statutes mandating training regarding human trafficking for individuals working in the lodging industry: California, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey
  • 11 states have voluntary training laws for individuals working in the lodging industry: Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont
  • In addition to state laws, there are various agency and municipal regulations, which are beyond the scope of this project. Interested parties should contact their local lodging and hotel association, chamber of commerce or governmental agencies familiar with regulations in local jurisdictions.