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.
A new Illinois state law requires certain employers to post notices informing employees and other members of the public of a helpline to assist any person who is subject to human trafficking.1 This law, effective January 1, 2016, and entitled the “the Human Trafficking Resource Center Notice Act,” largely tracks the requirements of a California law that became effective in April 2013.2
The notice provides the phone number for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center3 as a helpline for any person “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 ….”
Although the notice is broadly applicable to individuals enduring forced labor in all industries, the requirement to post the notice is limited to the following Illinois businesses specifically enumerated in the law:
- Businesses where the sale of alcohol is the principal business and that hold on-premise consumption retailer licenses under the Liquor Control Act of 1934;
- Adult entertainment facilities;
- Primary airports;
- Intercity passenger rail or light rail stations;
- Bus stations;
- Truck stops;
- Emergency rooms within general acute care hospitals;
- Urgent care centers;
- Farm labor contractors; and
- Private job recruitment centers.
The notice recently became available for download on the Illinois Department of Human Services website.4 Covered businesses must post the notice 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. The notices must be in both English and Spanish, and under certain circumstances, in a third language if that language is the most widely spoken in the county where the business is located.5
The Illinois Department of Labor is charged with enforcing this law. Businesses that fail to properly post the notice are liable for a civil penalty of $500 for a first offense, and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.
This notice requirement is part of a broader effort by the Illinois State government to clamp down on forced labor. As an example, in November 2015, the Illinois Attorney General filed suit against certain employment agencies and Chinese restaurants for alleged “abusive and discriminatory treatment of Latino workers” by placing “vulnerable, immigrant workers in exploitative restaurant jobs across the country.”6 In particular, the suit alleged racial discrimination in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the Illinois Human Rights Act, as well as violations of Illinois minimum wage, overtime, and “one day rest in seven” laws.
Thus, while Illinois employers that fall under the new posting law should be mindful of the posting requirements, all Illinois employers should expect increased government scrutiny for signs of forced or exploitative labor within their operations.
This new Illinois law is one of the myriad and recent legislative and regulatory developments aimed at stamping out human trafficking, including the recent amendments to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and the UK Modern Slavery Act.7 Littler will continue to monitor these developments and evolving employer requirements.
1 See Public Act 99-0099.
2 See John C. Kloosterman, California Employers Have Another Notice Posting Obligation – Have You Posted Your Human Trafficking Notice?, Littler Insight (Apr. 3, 2013).
3 The National Human Trafficking Resource Center is run by Polaris, a non-profit, non-governmental organization that receives funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
5 In addition to English and Spanish, the Illinois Department of Human Services' website provides notices in the following languages: Polish, French, Chinese, Korean, Urdu, Vietnamese, and Tagalog.
6 Illinois v. Xing Ying Employment Agency et al., No. 1:15-cv-10235 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 12, 2015).
7 See Elizabeth A. Lalik and Katherine A. Fearn, Anti-Trafficking Regulations Impose New Obligations on All Federal Contractors, Littler Insight (Apr. 10, 2015); Tahl Tyson, United Kingdom: New Law to Combat Supply Chain Slavery and Human Trafficking, Littler ASAP (July 14, 2015).