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NEW YORK LAWS TARGET HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Your business may be among those affected by recent state legislation enacted to combat human trafficking. If you hold a license from the New York State Liquor Authority to sell alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption, operate a lodging facility, or a truck stop, this will be of concern to you.

Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery that occurs in every state, including New York.[1] Under U.S. law, trafficking in persons is defined as “sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age;” or “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.”[2]

From 2016 through 2020, New York State was referenced in some way in 2,053 reported cases of human trafficking, an average of more than one case per day.[3] It affects people in every community across the state – urban, suburban, and rural.[4]

In the United States as a whole, it is the second most profitable criminal activity in the United States, second only to illegal drugs.[5]

On an international scale, the International Labour Organization reports $150 billion in illegal profits are generated annually, with $99 billion being attributed to commercial sexual exploitation and $51 billion from forced economic exploitation, such as domestic and agricultural work.[6]

The numbers associated with this crime are shocking, with possibly 27 million modern-day slaves worldwide. Approximately 50% of the victims are children, 80% are women and girls. 70% of the female victims are trafficked into the commercial sex trade, at ages as young as 12.[7]

Most of human trafficking takes place out of the public eye, but not all.  Recruitment takes place mostly online, but also at a wide variety of locations, including malls, hotels, parties, or even a carnival.[8] Minors have been targeted at large public events, at schools, at after school programs, and even through friends.[9]

Human trafficking by its very nature requires travel – either mass transit, private vehicles, or a combination of both – to transport victims. Over 80% of victims are moved by private vehicle, and often over long distances.[10]

Recognizing these facts, and to help combat this scourge, Governor Hochul signed eight bills into law on July 20, 2022 that amend the Alcohol Beverage Control Law, the General Business Law, and the Transportation Law, among others.

The focus of these laws is not only to promote public awareness, but also to advertise available resources available in places that traffickers are likely to stop at or use, either to recruit or transit with their victims.

With a view towards the use of public transportation facilities, operators of commercial service airports, as well as truck stop operators, will now be required to make informational cards or signs available in public restrooms containing information on services for trafficking victims, as well as the national human trafficking hotline number, which is 1-888-373-7888 (or text 233733).

The same will be required at airports and bus terminal operated by the Port Authority, and at each of the 27 service areas located along the New York State Thruway system. These rules go into effect in 60 days.

As traffickers also utilize hotel rooms not only to house their victims, but also as an integral part of the illicit sex trade, part of the new legislation is aimed at promoting awareness among hospitality workers who are likely to interact or come into contact with guests to undergo a human trafficking recognition training program – the content of which will be established and approved by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services – to enable them to spot some of the red flags of human trafficking. These include guests travelling with few possessions, multiple rooms under one name, excessive foot traffic, and all-cash payments.[11]

This rule goes into effect in one year, and will apply to any inn, hotel, motel, motor court, or other establishment that provides lodging to transient guests.

Victims of human trafficking for both sex and labor may be found in premises that are licensed by the state to sell alcoholic beverages. Such places are also ripe for recruitment of victims. As such, bar and restaurant staff are in a unique position to spot human trafficking activity. Recognizing this, part of the new legislation amends the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law to require a human trafficking training component to be included in all Alcohol Training Awareness Programs (ATAP). In addition to recognition training, employees will learn reporting procedures to be better enabled to help victims. This rule goes into effect in thirty days.

Additionally, any person, corporation, or other business establishment with a license to sell alcoholic beverages for on-site consumption will be required to post signage – to be prepared and provided by the State Liquor Authority – pertaining to the offense of human trafficking; together with hotline information to assist individuals from becoming or freeing themselves from any act of human trafficking. This rule takes effect in thirty days.

While legislation has not been created to address every possible business or industry in which human trafficking may be present, this is at least a starting point in the effort to end modern-day slavery.

[1] Humantrafficckinghotline.org (last visited July 22, 2022)

[2] Humanrightsfirst.org (Id.)

[3] Humantrafficckinghotline.org

[4] Health.ny.gov (last visited July 22, 202

[5] Mbfpreventioneducation.org (id.)

[6] Ilo.org (Id.)

[7] Mbfpreventioneducation.org (id.)

[8] Traffickinginstitue.org (last visited July 22, 2022)

[9] Mbfpreventioneducation.org (id.)

[10] Polaris project.org

[11] Cracking the $150 Billion Business of Human Trafficking (Feb. 2, 2020 07:04am EST), www.forbes.com

This is not intended to be legal advise.  You should contact your attorney to discuss your specific situation.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

William E. Podszus is an Associate at the firm and practices general litigation.
He can be reached at 845-764-9656 and by email.

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