California bill arms hotel employees against human trafficking


Cristina Garcia of the California Lodging Association put forward new legislation to combat human trafficking in hotels and motels.

Assembly Bill 1942 was first introduced Feb. 12, 2016, and seeks to change the way hotels display information regarding human trafficking. Existing laws require certain business establishments to post notices of human trafficking in conspicuous areas, and failure to comply with these laws will result in a civil penalty of $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense. In addition, anyone who deprives or violates the personal liberty of another with the intent to obtain forced labor or services is guilty of the crime of human trafficking.

AB 1942, as it was introduced, would require any hotel or motel in California to train employees on how to recognize the victims of human trafficking and recognize the signs of such activity. Employees would also be trained in how to respond to these signs and report them to law enforcement.

The bill will also require that, by Jan. 1, 2018, this training would be incorporated into the initial training process for all new employees. Employees who had not received the training after being hired will also be trained. In addition, the bill would require the Department of Justice to develop guidelines for the training by July 1, 2017, and post them on its website.

According to a March 2015 report from the Polaris Project, 1,434 cases of human trafficking in hotels and motels have been reported to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, and hotels are considered hot spots for human trafficking transactions due to the industry's perceived lack of awareness of the issue.

Large social events are also considered hotbeds for human trafficking, such as the Super Bowl. Most recently the Medina County Coalition Against Human Trafficking hosted a free workshop on the crime at the Lafayette United Methodist Church in Medina ahead of the Republican National Convention, which will be held in Cleveland, Ohio, in July.