Common criminals aren't the only ones responsible for America's growing human trafficking crisis. Businesses like hotels, airlines, truck stops, and websites are making millions of dollars a year by supporting and promoting a modern-day slave practice. These businesses have ignored their responsibility and have escaped accountability. Until now.
Our law firm is representing survivors of human trafficking who were sexually exploited at commercial businesses, such as hotels and truck stops, as well as those who were exploited on certain websites. Offenders often exploit classified advertising websites to recruit and later advertise sex trafficking victims.
What We Know About the Human Trafficking Lawsuits
State and federal laws now allow survivors of human trafficking to recover from businesses benefiting financially from horrendous acts of sexual and human abuse. A 2008 amendment to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (“TVPRA”) allows survivors to bring civil claims against business that “knowingly benefit from their participation in what they knew or should have known was a [sex trafficking venture].”
Human trafficking is a $150 billion a year industry. Sexual exploitation accounts for $99 billion a year in profit. Without the cooperation of legitimate businesses to transport and hide victims, human traffickers would struggle to carry out their criminal enterprise.
Victims of human trafficking are moved through commercial airline flights, buses, trucks, taxis, and trains. Human traffickers prefer hotels and motels to carry out the sexual exploitation of victims. Hotels are one of most common sites for sexual exploitation, second only to brothels.
Our law firm has taken an important survivor-centered approach to combat human trafficking and has teamed up with several advocacy groups such as the National Center on Sexual Exploitation and World Without Exploitation.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (“NCOSE”) has joined our law firm to help lead the fight against human trafficking by supporting our clients' claims that the hotel industry profits off the backs of victims by facilitating sex trafficking and prostitution on their properties. NCOSE has joined our law firm in filing lawsuits against hotel chains like Wyndham to help bring justice to survivors and to further the organization’s mission to hold corporations accountable for contributing to sexual exploitation.
World Without Exploitation ("World WE") aims to put an end to modern-day slavery through education and outreach to provide help and resources for victims. Levin Papantonio sponsors and supports World WE through its Now & Next Survivor Speaker Series.
We have made giant strides towards holding businesses accountable for their roles in facilitating sex trafficking. Three jurisdictions have ruled that claims against hotel chains such as Wyndham should move forward to trial.
We recognize that representing survivors of trafficking provides a unique opportunity to make a difference in this world and to create a safer future for our children. By speaking out and sharing their stories, survivors of human trafficking have saved lives. Your willingness to come forward and your courage to hold commercial businesses accountable is our best weapon against human trafficking. Join us in the fight against human trafficking. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story and help save a life.
What is Human Trafficking?
While human trafficking involving forced prostitution gets most of the media attention, human trafficking involves all forms of forced labor, including domestic, sweatshop factory, construction, restaurant and hotel work, as well as sexual exploitation and forced marriages.
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), there are more than 40 million people around the world who are victims of human trafficking. Over 80 percent are forced into marriages or labor against their will, of which one-quarter of them are children. Seventy-five percent of the victims are women and girls. Globally, human trafficking represents a $150 billion industry. Twenty percent of that revenue is generated in the U.S.
In 2000, President William Clinton signed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), which was the first federal law to address the issue of modern-day human trafficking. The law defines human trafficking as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person” for labor or sex services through the use of “force, fraud or coercion.”
It is difficult to get reliable statistics on human trafficking in the U.S., as some of these cases are mistaken for domestic violence. However, the ILO estimates that between adult and child victims there may be hundreds of thousands who have been exploited. In 2017, Forbes reported that human trafficking is among the fastest growing forms of criminal activity in the U.S.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act has been reauthorized and amended a number of times since it was first signed into law. One of the most recent additions was the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA) of 2015, which applies criminal liability against those who purchase sexual services from victims of trafficking. The JVTA also established the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, which consists of trafficking survivors who advise the federal government and review current policy and efforts to stop these crimes.
The past two years have seen a number of lawsuits filed against companies in the hospitality industry, a software company, and even the Church of Scientology. Plaintiffs in these cases claim the defendants either failed to take action against traffickers, or aided and abetted acts of trafficking and exploitation.
Human Trafficking Lawsuit News
Pornhub, parent company MindGeek, sued by child trafficking survivors:
Two child trafficking survivors have filed a lawsuit against porn company MindGeek and its popular adult video-sharing website, Pornhub, for victimizing and exploiting "child sex abuse material for profit." Kimberly Adams, a partner at Levin Papantonio Rafferty, who is representing the plaintiffs, said the lawsuit aims to "fix" the internet rather than "break it" by "eliminating MindGeek's haven and marketplace for child rapists and pedophiles." Reported in Fox Business
Lawsuits Accuse Big Hotel Chains of Allowing Sex Trafficking:
During the three months that S.Y. was forced into prostitution, she said blood and used condoms littered the hotel rooms where she had sex in Naples, Fla. Skinny, underdressed women loitered in hotel lobbies while men wearing gold chains waited their turns, she said. Dozens of women say Hilton, Marriott, Wyndham and others turned a blind eye to organized prostitution at their establishments. Reported in Wall Street Journal
National Center on Sexual Exploitation Files Lawsuit Against Wyndham Hotels:
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) has taken a significant step forward in bringing a measure of justice to survivors of sex trafficking this week. NCOSE is co-counsel on a case that was filed against nationwide hotel chain Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, Inc. and others for knowingly facilitating the sex trafficking of a 16-year-old girl beginning in 2014. Reported in National Center Sexual Exploitation
Woman accuses hotel chains in OR and WA of failing to intervene or prevent her from being sex trafficked:
A 22-year-old woman who was sexually trafficked at hotels in Oregon and Washington is suing six major hotel chains in federal court, saying they failed to thwart the crime and were complicit in her abuse. Reported in The Oregonian
Major hotel chains named in sex trafficking lawsuits:
Some of the biggest hotel companies in the world are named in dozens of lawsuits of ignoring clear signs of human trafficking. More than 40 federal suits claim that hotel companies an franchises profitted from sex-trafficking operations, and were either aware of it or should have been. Reported in The Real Deal
Getting Help - National Human Trafficking Hotline
If you or someone you know is in danger, please call the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 888-373-7888 (TTY:711). For help and more information on human trafficking, you can also visit National Human Trafficking Hotline and National Center on Sexual Exploitation.