Insights

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Human Trafficking in the Hospitality Industry: What Industry Participants Should Do to Protect Themselves and Their Customers

In 2016 alone, 4.8 million people were victims of forced sexual exploitation worldwide. Nearly 200,000 were trafficked in the Americas, and more than one million were children. Moreover, data from the National Human Trafficking Hotline shows that at least 7.7 percent of human trafficking cases reported in 2016 were based in hotels or motels, the most common "location" for the abuse to occur. Indeed, hotels and motels are common sites of human trafficking—they not only offer an affordable and easily accessible location for commercial sex acts, but they also provide privacy and anonymity for both traffickers and trafficked individuals.

There is no doubt that members of the hospitality industry do not want their legitimate services abused by traffickers, nor the safety of their guests jeopardized in this manner. As federal and state authorities, the plaintiffs' bar, and public sentiment increasingly place pressure on corporations to join global anti-trafficking efforts, the hospitality industry can take proactive compliance-related measures to ensure trafficking does not happen at their hotels.

This Jones Day White Paper touches on key aspects of the fast developing law addressing the scourge of human trafficking. More specifically, it sets forth: (i) the laws governing the hospitality industry's obligations to detect or eradicate human trafficking at their establishments; (ii) examples of lawsuits filed against members of the hospitality industry; and (iii) suggestions for members of the hospitality industry to best protect their customers and position themselves in this climate of heightened obligations.

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