California Enacts Two Laws Aimed At Combating Human Trafficking

Two new California laws seek to combat human trafficking through required training and mandatory notice postings. These steps are intended to provide education and resources for employees who believe they, or someone they know, are the victims of human trafficking.  The new laws apply to various industries that may be particularly vulnerable to human trafficking.

Senate Bill 970

On September 27, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown approved Senate Bill (SB) 970, which adds Section 12950.3 to the Government Code.  The new law requires hotels and motels subject to the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to provide at least 20 minutes of classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding human trafficking awareness to each employee likely to interact or come into contact with victims of human trafficking. This training must be completed by January 1, 2020 for workers employed as of July 1, 2019, and within six months of hire for workers employed after July 1, 2019.  

After January 1, 2020, an employer must provide human trafficking awareness training and education to each employee likely to interact or come into contact with victims of human trafficking once every two years.  These employees include, but are not limited to, employees who have reoccurring interactions with the public, such as employees who work in a reception area, perform housekeeping duties, help customers in moving their possessions, or drive customers.

The mandatory training and education shall include:

  • The definition of human trafficking and commercial exploitation of children;
  • Guidance on how to identify individuals most at risk for human trafficking;
  • The difference between labor and sex trafficking specific to the hotel sector;
  • Guidance on the role of hospitality employees in reporting and responding to this issue; and
  • The contact information of appropriate agencies.1

The mandatory training and education may also include materials and information provided by the Department of Justice, the Blue Campaign of the federal Department of Homeland Security, and private nonprofit organizations that represent the interests of victims of human trafficking.

If an employer violates this section, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) may seek an order requiring the employer to comply.

Assembly Bill 2034

The same day the governor also signed Assembly Bill (AB) 2034, which amends Section 52.6 of the Civil Code of California.  The amendment requires a variety of businesses and other establishments to post a compliant notice regarding human trafficking in a conspicuous place near the public entrance of the establishment or in another conspicuous location in clear view of the public and employees where similar notices are customarily posted.  Like SB 970, AB 2034 also requires certain businesses to conduct employee training.

The business and establishments affected by the new posting mandate include:

  • On-sale general public premises licensees under the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act;
  • Adult or sexually oriented businesses;
  • Primary airports;
  • Intercity passenger rail or light rail stations;
  • Bus stations;
  • Truck stops;2
  • Emergency rooms within general acute care hospitals;
  • Urgent care centers;
  • Farm labor contractors;
  • Privately operated job recruitment centers;
  • Roadside rest areas;
  • Businesses or establishments that offer massage or bodywork services for compensation; and
  • Hotels, motels, and bed and breakfast inns.

The notice must be at least 81/2 inches by 11 inches in size, written in a 16-point font, provided in English, Spanish, and in one other language that is the most widely spoken language in the county where the establishment is located, as required by the federal Voting Rights Act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 1973 et seq.), unless English or Spanish is the most widely spoken language, and shall state the following:

If you or someone you know is being forced to engage in any activity and cannot leave—whether it is commercial sex, housework, farm work, construction, factory, retail, or restaurant work, or any other activity—text 233-733 (Be Free) or call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or the California Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) at 1-888-KEY-2-FRE(EDOM) or 1-888-539-2373 to access help and services.

The notice must also state that “victims of slavery and human trafficking are protected under United States and California law,” and note that the hotlines are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, toll-free, operated by a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, anonymous and confidential, accessible in more than 160 languages, and able to provide help, referral to services, training, and general information.  

Businesses subject to this posting requirement must comply starting January 1, 2019. The California Department of Justice shall develop and provide the model notice for download on the Department’s web site by January 1, 2019. 

AB 2034 also mandates that by January 1, 2021, a business or other establishment that operates an intercity passenger rail or light rail station, or bus station, shall provide at least 20 minutes of training to its new and existing employees who may interact with, or come into contact with, a victim of human trafficking or who are likely to receive, in the course of their employment, a report from another employee about suspected human trafficking. The required training will provide information on recognizing the signs of human trafficking and how to report those signs to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

This mandatory training shall include:

  • The definition of human trafficking, including sex trafficking and labor trafficking;
  • Myths and misconceptions about human trafficking;
  • Physical and mental signs to be aware of that may indicate that human trafficking is occurring;
  • Guidance on how to identify individuals most at risk for human trafficking;
  • Guidance on how to report human trafficking, including, but not limited to, national hotlines (1-888-373-7888 and text line 233733) and contact information for local law enforcement agencies that an employee may use to make a confidential report; and
  • Protocols for reporting human trafficking when on the job.

Failure to comply with the new law will subject business to a civil penalty of $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for each later offense.

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, California had the most human trafficking cases reported in 2017.3 All California employers should know that while these new laws establish minimum requirements certain industries must adhere to, the laws likely suggest California agencies will increase scrutiny for indications of forced or exploitative labor practices within their operations.  Littler will continue to monitor developments and additional requirements imposed on California employers. 

See Footnotes

This information includes the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free telephone number, 1-888-373-7888, and text line, 233733, and the telephone numbers of the appropriate local law enforcement agencies.

2 For this section, “truck stop” means a privately owned and operated facility that provides food, fuel, shower or other sanitary facilities, and lawful overnight truck parking.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.