Human trafficking, mostly for sex work and forced labor, is a horrendous and devastating crime that happens in literally every city in the United States. You may think, “that couldn’t happen where I live” or “that is the sort of thing that happens in dirty motels in LA”. But you are wrong. Non-profit organizations and law enforcement task forces report that they handle human and sex trafficking cases in cities big and small and across all 50 states. At Sibley Dolman Gipe, we are dedicated to helping victims of human and sex trafficking to seek compensation from the businesses and industries that help facilitate these horrendous crimes and to get our clients compensation for their physical and emotional pain and suffering.
Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery that happens to both people who considered at-risk and to people you would think are completely protected from it. So how can adults and children be traded for sex and labor in the modern US so easily?
Because hotels, motels, nightclubs, casinos, resorts, cruise ships, farm owners, commercial fishing companies and so many more negligently turn a blind eye to these practices and allow this horrible industry to continue to be more profitable than industries like tobacco and marijuana. In fact, most of these places know exactly what they are doing by staying quiet. These companies often know what they are doing is wrong but do it anyway. Some of the bigger corporations even go as far as to hire through third-party agencies to make them one step removed; it fools nobody. These industries also put a major focus on hiding these practices since a scandal would cost them money, and willfully ignoring it only helps their profits.
This is a massive problem and the human trafficking lawyers at Sibley Dolman Gipe are here to try to help. These companies should and must be held accountable for allowing men, women, and children to be sold, torchered, violated, and imprisoned—and that is exactly what we intend to do.
If you or your loved one was a victim of human trafficking or sex trafficking, we may be able to help you hold those companies that allowed it to happen responsible. Contact us today at 727-451-6900 for a confidential and free consultation. We take on giant corporations every day and we are passionate about helping those who have been injured and wronged. Let us help you!
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is in essence, modern slavery. It boils down to the exploitation of human beings via coercion undertaken through subtle and overt means to get them to perform some form of labor against their will. A more formal definition of human trafficking would be:
The trade of humans for the purpose of forced labor, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others.
Human trafficking is much more complex than just a simple modern version of the slave trade. Much of human trafficking consists of organized exploitation of people against their will but many cases involve more nuanced situations.
Understanding the Broader Definition of Human Trafficking
While much of human trafficking consists of moving captive humans in a slave trade network and forcing them to perform labor or acts in one of many potential industries or settings, human trafficking also can also be as simple as a single individual holding another against their will and exploiting them for their own personal benefit.
So the international smuggling of captives into prostitution or an adult forcibly coercing someone into performing labor for them can both be considered human trafficking. Human trafficking does not at all require the smuggling of captives across the border. On the other hand, smuggling people across the border does not always count as human trafficking.
However, smuggling people across the border can very easily turn into human trafficking when the people that are smuggled across of their own volition are then forced or coerced in some way into performing tasks or labor by their smugglers.
Who Gets Human Trafficked?
A very common misconception surrounding human trafficking is that it involves destitute foreign people from third world countries smuggled into the United States for nefarious reasons usually prostitution or drugs. The reality is that human trafficking is a crime that affects everyone. Human trafficking can involve American citizens from affluent backgrounds forced into labor in places ranging from suburban neighborhoods to truck stops.
While there are certain demographics that are much more commonly involved in human trafficking, people from any background regardless of gender, age, race, sexual orientation, class, or nationality can and have been victims of human trafficking.
Human Trafficking Demographics
The most commonly trafficked groups tend to come from disenfranchised backgrounds with little social or legal protection. It is estimated that 70% of all human trafficking victims are women; especially women in settings where extreme gender discrimination may be prevalent. The average age of human trafficking victims is 27. Half of all human trafficking victims are aged 19-33.
Many human trafficking victims are forced into slavery in their teens and grow up while being trafficked. There are also many children that are born into human trafficking to mothers that are trafficked. People trafficked into the country most often come from either Mexico or the Philippines although nations from almost every continent contribute to the transport of slaves.
Human Trafficking Statistics
Getting exact figures on the crime of human trafficking is exceptionally difficult due to the hidden nature of the crime and the vast amount of unreported cases. The best we can do is estimate the extent of human trafficking that occurs. So far, all statistics that have been estimated indicate that human trafficking is a much more vast and far-reaching crime than most people realize and the statistics might actually be underestimating figures.
It is estimated that there are 50,000 people human trafficked into the United States every year.
There are more people enslaved now as a result of human trafficking that at ay point in human history
Estimates indicate that there are 20-40 million people in modern slavery today.
Human trafficking earns global profits of around $150 billion every year for traffickers. Of this $150 billion, $99 billion is expected to come from sex trafficking.
Over half of the criminal trafficking cases active in the United States consisted of sex trafficking involving children.
Who Are Human Traffickers?
Much like with the victims of human trafficking, human traffickers can also come from a very wide array of backgrounds and demographics. Human trafficking is the second-largest criminal enterprise in the world. The promise of high potential rewards weighed against a fairly low risk of being caught has lead to many engaging in human trafficking.
The size and sophistication of human trafficking operations are equally varied. There are solo operators, small businesses, loose trafficking rings, and sophisticated international criminal organizations all taking part in this illegal enterprise.
Human traffickers can be male, female, foreign, domestic, wealthy, poor, etc. This is partly because human trafficker as a term actually encompasses a wide array of different kinds of criminals that can be involved in this illegal enterprise.
How Are People Trafficked?
Human trafficking is a process that involves several steps a human trafficking victim will go through and which can be carried out by one or several different offenders.
1. Recruitment and Abduction
The beginning of human trafficking where a victim is identified and then recruited into slavery via fraud, force, or coercion. Victims of human trafficking are often lured into slavery through the promise of economic opportunity via promises of employment, education, travel, etc.
Recruiters will often have certain hunting grounds they will rely on to gather victims. These may include travel hubs like bus stops, train stations, truck stops, and hotels or employment agencies. In other cases, recruiters may take a more direct approach and rely on threats against a victim or their family, and even outright abduction.
2. Transfer and Transport
A common misconception about this part of human trafficking is that it always consists of travel across a significant distance; usually across borders. While transfer and transportation of human trafficking victims can often involve this. Many can end up being trafficked within their own home.
Transfer and transport of human trafficking victims can take place over land, sea, or air. Victims can initially be transported of their own volition after they are recruited unaware of the exploitation that is planned for them. In other cases, human trafficking victims are transported like cargo in dehumanizing ways. For example, in crates, cargo holds, truck beds, smuggling compartments, etc.
The last part of human trafficking is the exploitation itself. This can take a number of forms and levels of intensity. Generally, human trafficking involves a handful of industries and markets like sex work, manual labor, and hospitality. The exploitation of human trafficking victims can occur in an equally varied list of locations ranging from hotels to warehouses.
What Industries are People Trafficked For?
Human trafficking takes place in nearly every industry, but some industries are much more common. Those industries most commonly known for human trafficking nationwide are:
- Sexual Exploitation
- Labor Exploitation
- Domestic Work (Hospitality Industry)
States that have a large hospitality industry, like places that are popular with tourists, allow people to be moved around unnoticed, and also inadvertently create a demand for this kind of labor.
have created an immense demand for cheap or free labor from exploitable workers which has led to the state becoming the third-worst state when it comes to human trafficking behind California and New York.
Human Trafficking and Agriculture
States with the right climate for growing foodstuffs need lots of labor, and they often want it as cheap as possible. For example, Florida’s agriculture industry has long lived off of the backbreaking labor of migrant workers and the immense demand for intense labor on the fields has led to extensive human trafficking.
The agricultural industry’s issues with human trafficking have existed for some time and while the situation is improving thanks to new labor laws and the push for fair food practices, human trafficking still exists and causes widespread suffering in this industry to this day.
Who is Involved in Human Trafficking for Agriculture
Immigrants both legal and illegal from South and Central America are commonly exploited in crop fields for labor involving produce picking, sorting, packaging, etc. where they work exceptionally long hours with no breaks, little to no water, and exposure to dangerous farming chemicals.
Human traffickers will often promise economic opportunity in The United States, smuggle people over the border, and then reveal their exploitive intent once the people they have trafficked are stuck in a situation where they either do what the traffickers say or risk being reported to authorities, sexual or physical violence, or the prospect of navigating a new country on their own with an immense language barrier, little opportunity, no connections, and hostility.
Human Trafficking in Hospitality
The hospitality industry makes up the backbone of lots of states that rely on tourism. It is no surprise that states like Florida, California, and New York which have a massive tourism industry would lead to an immense demand for workers which human trafficking has rushed to accommodate. Human trafficking will usually be involved in the more menial jobs like housekeeping, sanitation, cooking, maintenance, and bell staff.
These positions do not require as much interaction with customers/guests so the chances of discovery are much less likely even if most victims of human trafficking do not seek outside help even when presented with an opportunity. Positions in the hospitality industry like front desk/concierge, security, or bar and restaurant service are less commonly filled by victims of human trafficking.
Businesses like casinos, theme parks, restaurants, resorts, and spas all have been found to utilize the exploited labor provided by human trafficking. These hospitality businesses will also vary greatly in their luxury and value. Five-star hotels can be involved with human trafficking just like isolated budget motels.
Human Trafficking and Sexwork
The most notorious industry where human trafficking has flourished is sex work and adult entertainment. The illegality and sometimes gray legality of sex work and adult entertainment makes for a very profitable and effective industry for human trafficking to take advantage of. Since this industry works at the fringes of our society and in most cases is illegal, the chances of discovery by authorities is much less likely.
Consumers as well as most people that work in these industries and are not involved in human trafficking do not talk to authorities out of fear of being arrested themselves. The profits to be earned in this industry are also significant and there is always demand.
Human trafficking is regularly tied to prostitution, exotic dancing, escorting, and pornography of all different levels. Sex trafficking can be defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.
What Can Survivors Do After Being Trafficked?
Those fortunate enough to survive human trafficking often are able to assist authorities in apprehending those that are guilty of this terrible crime. Prosecution of this crime is particularly harsh considering how cruel and inhumane human trafficking is.
While justice is served to those criminally prosecuted for human trafficking there is little this aspect of the law can do for a human trafficking survivor aside from giving them some sense of justice or peace of mind knowing that their captor is behind bars.
There is still the issue of how human trafficking has led to those trafficked suffering severe damages that ruin their lives. Whether someone’s life was lived in desperation or they had a promising future before they were forced into slavery, human trafficking always inflicts severe damages that make reintegrating into a normal life incredibly difficult financially, psychologically, and emotionally. Criminal law does not offer financial restitution for these damages so it falls upon civil law to hold those responsible and liable for human trafficking accountable for their actions.
Dolman Law Group Nationwide Human Trafficking Lawyers
If you or a loved one is a survivor of human trafficking and believe that you are owed restitution from a liable party for the damages you suffered while trafficked then do not hesitate to contact the attorneys of Dolman Law Group.
Our human trafficking lawyers specialize in assisting those that have been trafficked in seeking compensation for the damages they suffered from parties that either directly contributed to their human trafficking or through negligence allowed their trafficking to continue when something should have been done.
Discretion and Your Human Trafficking Case
When it comes to human trafficking cases the lawyers of Dolman Law Group understand that sensitivity and discretion are of utmost importance. Our firm has years of experience handling cases where privacy is not just a personal concern but one that is integral to maintaining the safety of our clients.
Our consultations regarding your case are completely confidential so that you can focus on rebuilding your life and not worry about any possible danger that may come from speaking to a human trafficking lawyer.
How Can a Human Trafficking Lawyer Help me?
Hiring a human trafficking attorney is the first step when it comes to taking legal action regarding the damages you suffered while trafficked. Our human trafficking lawyers can provide expert assistance when it comes to
- Determining legal options are available to you
- Notifying you of your rights
- Determining what damages you can claim
- Identifying which parties are liable for your damages
- Investigating your case
- Filing necessary documentation
- Negotiating settlements
- Representing you in a trial
Who is Liable for Human Trafficking?
Dolman Law Group human trafficking lawyers can assist you in building a case against a number of entities that you may not have realized could be liable for the damages that you have suffered.
In many cases, human trafficking survivors endured captivity or were forced to work on the premises of various businesses or institutions that should have been aware of the crime taking place on their property. Through their negligent actions, these businesses may have allowed these crimes to continue and in some cases could have been complicit in the crimes themselves.
Common examples of parties that may be considered liable for the damages suffered on their premises because of human trafficking include:
- Farms/Agriculture companies
- Massage businesses
- Truck stops
- Theme parks
- Cruise Ships
- Apartment complexes
Human trafficking can take place on the premises of these businesses right under the noses of those that operate the business as well as patrons. While businesses are not always expected to be completely omniscient regarding what happens on their property, they are expected to exercise a certain degree of awareness when it comes to signs of human trafficking which many businesses negligently fail to act on or even recognize. There are many new laws that mandate training for staff in the hospitality industry for recognizing signs of human trafficking that many businesses fail to provide which can make them liable.
Signs of Human Trafficking
The following include some of the most common signs of human trafficking that businesses are expected to notice and report. These signs are not only taught in human trafficking training taken by hospitality employees but they are also generally indicative of something wrong that any rational person would call into question. Alone, these signs are not always a clear indicator of human trafficking but they are seldom solitary red flags where human trafficking is concerned.
Signs of Human Trafficking in the Hospitality Industry
- Hotel/motel/resort rooms containing large amounts of sexual paraphernalia, cash, alcohol, or drugs
- Rooms calling for an unusually large amount of spare towels and sheets
- Rooms refusing room service for the entirety of a stay
- Large amounts of people visiting a single room
- Guests checked in and dropped off at rooms by a dominant handler; often at odd hours
- Guests without ID
- Hospitality workers restricted from speaking with guests
Signs of Human Trafficking in the Agriculture Industry
- Unusually isolated fields and labor
- Workers being closely monitored by overseers in person or electronically
- Large amounts of injury among laborers
- Laborers working unusual or extremely long hours
- Workers living on site or unusually close to work sites in poor conditions
Signs Someone may be a Human Trafficking Victim
- Signs of malnourishment dehydration
- Injuries such as bruising especially around ankles/wrists or genitals
- Nervous or scared demeanor
- Lack of eye contact
- Verbal and financial interactions are handled by a dominant companion
- Torn/damaged or unusually sexual clothing
- Young people/children in irregular locations at odd times like school hours or weeknights
- Lack of identifying documentation or it is held by an employer
- Workers living on-site
- Restricted movement around the premises or restriction from leaving the premises
Businesses Profiting Off of Human Trafficking
Businesses may be negligent in their reaction to and dealing with human trafficking on their premises but in certain cases, the businesses may also be directly benefiting from this crime.
Human trafficking often leads to the direct increase of profit for a business since it may provide free and plentiful labor, the purchase of services from the business by traffickers/johns, or the occasional cut of profits from trafficking.
Businesses may not always be direct participants but turning a blind eye and claiming ignorance is a defense strategy human trafficking lawyers encounter when filing lawsuits against these businesses.
How Can You Claim Restitution from These Liable Parties?
Dolman Law Group’s human trafficking lawyers work in the legal field known as personal injury law which is focused on protecting people when they or their property is injured as a result of someone else’s negligence.
While human trafficking is a serious crime that is thoroughly prosecuted under criminal law, it also can be the focus of personal injury law that seeks compensation for the damages a person suffered because they were trafficked.
Convicted human traffickers may not be able to offer compensation for the damages they caused because they are in prison or lack the financial means but businesses that owned the property human trafficking took place on do have the means to offer compensation.
A human trafficking lawsuit filed with the assistance of Dolman Law Group’s experienced human trafficking lawyers can not only hold these businesses accountable and get you the compensation you deserve but also help ensure that human trafficking does not occur on those premises again.
Damages Caused by Human Trafficking
Those that suffer in captivity while being trafficked endure a wide range of damages and suffering. Some never even make it out of their ordeal. Physical, sexual, financial, and psychological abuse are the norm when it comes to human trafficking. Survivors of human trafficking may escape captivity only to have to face a whole host of issues while trying to reintegrate and resume a normal life. The following are common damages inflicted by human trafficking upon survivors for which they may be able to get compensation.
Pain and Suffering
When someone is trafficked they are exposed to some of the worst things that humanity has to offer. They are dehumanized and abused. The pain and suffering that comes with this is some of the most intense that a person can suffer. This pain can be mental and physical in nature, and reach the point that it can have tangible effects on a person’s health and ability to live their life. Despite the fact that pain and suffering does not come with a dollar amount like a hospital bill, that makes it no less important in a lawsuit.
Human trafficking often dehumanizes victims both as a strategy to coerce and also as a consequence of captivity. This can have severe psychological consequences and lead to the development of a number of debilitating mental disorders. The acts and labor that a person may be forced to perform in addition to the horrors a person may witness while being trafficked can also contribute to the psychological trauma that leads to these mental disorders. Some women even suffer the loss of children, both through miscarriage and from having their babies taken away, which no doubt creates a lifetime of mental anguish.
Some common mental illnesses that someone can develop as a result of trauma suffered while being trafficked include:
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Worsening of Existing Mental Disorders
- and Many More
Human trafficking survivors can suffer a wide array of injuries depending on the details of their trafficking such as what they were forced to do, their traffickers, etc. Physical and sexual abuse are the most common sources of injury among human trafficking survivors. However, survivors of human trafficking often do not seek traditional medical treatment and therefore cannot prove these expenses with medical bills. After all, they are often prisoners, have no health insurance, have no money, or all three. But we all know they still occur. Physical injuries that were sustained while a person was being trafficked very much deserve compensation but they cannot always be proved.
Any medical care that was received after the ordeal ended, including psychiatry and counseling, can be pursued. The cost of treating these injuries can be very expensive and make readjusting to a life of freedom especially difficult.
Wrongful Death Damages
There are many victims of human trafficking that do not survive either because of the direct actions of their traffickers or circumstances surrounding their forced labor. These people that are killed while being trafficked often leave behind families that now have to deal not only with the emotional loss of a loved one but also the loss of income, loss of companionship, loss of guidance, and the cost of funeral/burial expenses as well.
In cases where the negligence demonstrated is especially egregious, a court may award punitive damages. These punitive damages work as a sort of punishment against the defendant party that ensures that they will not make the same mistake again. Punitive damages also serve as a warning to others of the consequences that come with making the same mistake.
Nationwide Human Trafficking Lawyers
It should be noted that we are not criminal lawyers or prosecutors. We are civil trial attorneys who are advocating for human trafficking victims by helping them get compensation for their damages by going after the companies that helped with their imprisonment. These industries, like the hospitality industry, agriculture industry, commercial fishing and shipping, often not only know about what is going on, they take steps to cover it up. All we need to prove is that they knew, or that a reasonable person should have known, that something shady was going on and we can pursue financial compensation on your behalf.
Many companies, like motels, may not be participating themselves, but they do things that no reasonable person would do, like: rent room for weeks at a time with no oversight, rent rooms in cash only with no ID, never perform room checks, or pretend they don’t see anything along as they have cash in their hands.
Whether you were held for few days by a single person and the hotel staff refused to help you; or you were brought to the US under debt bondage conditions and forced to work on a cruise ship but somehow could never pay off the ever growing debt; or you were forced to work sunup to sundown for an agriculture company while they knew you were being trafficked from abroad; or if you were tricked into sex work by a modeling gig and held by violence yet the hotel turned a blind eye—we can help!
The attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe along with our partners across the country are working to slow down human trafficking by going after the companies that ignore these acts on their premises. We want to stop motels, hotels, nightclubs, casinos, resorts, and other establishments that knowing allow or turn a blind eye to the trafficking happening under their roofs. In order to do this, we need those who have been affected to bravely step forward and allow us to help you pursue these companies for compensation.
If you or your loved one was a victim of human trafficking or sex trafficking, contact us today at 727-451-6900 for a confidential, compassionate, and completely free consultation. You may be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and punitive damages which are large sums of money to punish the negligent corporation. Contact us today; there are time limits on these cases.
Resources for Human Trafficking Reporting and Assistance
- National Human Trafficking Hotline 1-888-373-7888
- Text “BEFREE” or “HELP” to 233733 or email email@example.com
- The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, at 1-800-THE-LOST or http://www.cybertipline.com/
- FBI tip page https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/field-offices
- Local FBI numbers can be found at https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/field-offices
- National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Center
- Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center
- Global Modern Slavery Directory
- Office for Victims of Crime Training and Technical Assistance Center