Florida Legislature Wants Hospitality Industry to Join in Fight Against Human Trafficking

Human labor and sex trafficking earns profits of nearly $150 billion per year for traffickers worldwide. In the United States, the State Department estimates annual profits for traffickers to be close to $32 billion. In Florida, hotels and motels are our state’s single-most common venue for human trafficking.

Currently before the Florida Legislature are bills which, if they become law, would provide additional protection for victims of sex trafficking. To help hospitality workers recognize and prevent trafficking from occurring in a hotel or motel, employers would be required to have human trafficking protocols in place.

Instead of profiting from trafficking, the hotelier would be required to recognize and actively prevent the trafficking. If the employer fails to have such measures in place, or a hotel/motel employee fails to follow them, the establishment would be subject to a civil cause of action if trafficking occurs on their premises.

This means that a victim of human trafficking could sue the hotel/motel for personal injury damages (and maybe punitive damages as well) for failing to follow state mandated protocols aimed at preventing the trafficking.

Victims of human trafficking already have the right to sue a hotel or motel for negligent security if that hotel or motel fails to provide a safe environment. But, if these bills become law, they will give victims a much greater avenue of recourse for their injuries against the hotel/motel which allowed them to be trafficked. Once the hospitality industry knows that they will be open to additional causes of action in the future, they will more likely to put appropriate protocols in place to help prevent human trafficking.

That’s the thing about Plaintiff’s lawyers – we really are watchdogs and advocates for people who are victims of corporate greed. We have to use the power of the law and the threat of a jury trial to make multi-million dollar companies do the correct and the humane thing.

Unfortunately, lobbyists for the hotel industry are fighting to exempt hotels and motels from these bills, essentially stripping them of their purpose. This appears to be another example of our state government putting profits before people. Tourism and hospitality are Florida’s top industries and they want to maximize and protect their profits. But, should any part of an industry’s profits come from traffickers?

It is important to know that these bills are not meant to punish hospitality workers who have no idea these crimes are taking place on their properties. Instead, the proposed legislation is meant to encourage an enormous industry to act, protecting people from modern day slavery. The bills are meant to give victims a louder voice, and the right to sue a hotel who failed to protect them from such horrors. These bills are meant to prevent hotels from turning a blind eye to horrible acts happening on their properties.

I can’t imagine why any Floridian would oppose this bill.