Have you posted your mandatory notice informing the public and victims of human trafficking of the telephone hotline numbers they can call to seek help or report unlawful activity? Do you even know if you are required to post the mandatory notice? If you are, can you get in trouble if you don’t? Below is a brief summary to help Illinois businesses understand The Illinois Human Trafficking Resources Center Notices Act (Public Act 099-0099) (the “Act”) which went into effect on January 1, 2016.
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What is the Act?
According to the Illinois Legislature, victims of human trafficking often do not know where to turn for assistance and can be too intimidated to ask for help. The Act requires specified businesses and other establishments, as of January 1, 2016, to post a notice informing the public and victims of human trafficking of telephone hotline numbers to seek help or report unlawful activity. There are specific posting mandates, language requirements, and penalties for failure to post. The mandated notice can be downloaded from the Illinois Department of Human Services website.
If your business is covered under the Act, you must post the mandated notice in both English and Spanish. Also, in certain counties, covered businesses may have to post the mandated notice in other languages as well. The notice must be posted 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.
What Must the Notice Say?
The mandated notice provides victims of human trafficking with essential information on where to obtain assistance. The notice also provides critical information to the public on how to report suspected human trafficking. As for format, the notice must be at least 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches in size, written in a 16-point font. The Act expressly provides that the notice must 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, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 to access help and services.
Victims of slavery and human trafficking are protected under United States and Illinois law. The hotline is:
- Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Operated by nonprofit nongovernmental organizations.
- Anonymous and confidential.
- Accessible in more than 160 languages.
- Able to provide help, referral to services, training, and general information.”
The Illinois Department of Human Services’ model notice states that human trafficking or slavery may be involved if a person or someone they know is:
- Being forced to engage in any activity and cannot leave, whether it is:
- Commercial sex industry (street prostitution, strip clubs, massage parlors, escort services, brothels, internet),
- Private Homes (housework, nannies, servile marriages),
- Farm work, landscaping, construction,
- Factory (industrial, garment, meat-packing),
- Peddling rings, begging rings, or door-to-door sales crews
- Hotel, retail, bars, restaurant work or
- Any other activity
- Had their passport or identification taken away; or
- Is being threatened with deportation if they won’t work.
Which Businesses are Required to Post the Notice?
- Any retailer licensee for on-the-premise consumption of alcohol under the Liquor Control Act of 1934, where the sale of alcoholic liquor is the principal business carried on by the licensee at the premises and primary to the sale of food.
- Adult entertainment facilities.
- Primary airports.
- Intercity passenger rail or light rail stations.
- Bus stations.
- Truck Stops.
- For the purposes of the Act, “truck stop” means a privately-owned and operated facility that provides food, fuel, shower or other sanitary facilities, and lawful overnight truck parking.
- Emergency rooms within general acute care hospitals.
- Urgent Care Centers.
- Farm labor contractors.
- Privately-operated job recruitment centers.
What Happens if a Covered Business Fails to Post the Notice?
The Illinois Department of Labor is responsible for enforcing the Act. If a covered business fails to post the notice as required under the Act, it can face a civil penalty of $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.
Why Did Illinois Pass a Law Requiring Public Notices Regarding Human Trafficking?
Believe it or not, human trafficking is a problem in the U.S. While many would like to believe it only happens in other – third-world – countries, – the reality is that it is happening all over the U.S. and sometimes right under our noses. One example is the recent arrest by the West Bloomfield police in Michigan of a man for allegedly enslaving women, selling them for sex on the Internet, and hurting children by taking sexually explicit photos of them and sharing them with others. The press release surrounding the arrest states that the man was being investigated for identity-theft crimes but when the police raided his house, they found a woman chained by the neck to a pole. As it turns out, the man was holding four women captive and would place ads on the Internet advertising that the women were for sale. Men would come to the house, and the man would line the four women up and let the men choose one. But they would pay him first. (See http://www.kvue.com/news/feds-detroit-man-enslaved-sold-women-he-called-his-wives/121036016 for more information on this man’s arrest and charges against him).
For years, an organization named Polaris, has been a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery. Polaris has been tracking and rating all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on 10 categories of laws that are critical to establishing a basic legal framework to effectively combat human trafficking, punish traffickers, and support survivors. (See https://polarisproject.org/state-laws-issue-briefs). According to Polaris, there has been an increase throughout the nation for states to introduce bills to address human trafficking. However, while criminal statutes have been enacted across the United States, there is still a significant absence of laws to assist and protect victims of human trafficking. Illinois’ new law appears to be an attempt to assist victims by providing them, and other members of the public, with critical information on how to report suspected human trafficking.