Labor trafficking

When employers force someone to work using threats, harm, restraint, abuse of the legal process or extortion.

If you believe you are a victim of trafficking or to file a report, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at (888) 373-7888 or call the Attorney General’s Fair Labor hotline at (617) 727-3465.

What is labor trafficking?

Labor trafficking happens when someone uses threats, harm (including financial harm), restraint, abuse of the legal process or extortion to force someone to perform work for an employer.  Forced services is a crime in Massachusetts, and Massachusetts’ law is more protective than federal lawAnyone who knowingly subjects, recruits, entices, harbors, transports, provides or obtains (or attempts to do so) another person intending that such person will be subjected to forced services; or who benefits financially from these actions, can face imprisonment and fines.  Businesses that commit labor trafficking can be fined up to one million dollars.

Learn to Recognize the Signs of Labor Trafficking

Who is at risk?

Trafficking happens in many industries. People who work in isolated places are more at risk. Domestic workers and agricultural workers are especially vulnerable to labor trafficking.

Many victims of labor trafficking are immigrants. Traffickers may use fear of deportation, debt bondage, language barriers, social isolation, and lack of legal knowledge to force someone to work.

The following report provides information about types of human trafficking:
The Typology of Modern Slavery: Defining Sex and Labor Trafficking in the United States
This is the largest data set on human trafficking in the United States ever compiled and publicly analyzed. The Polaris Project’s research team analyzed the data and developed a classification system that identifies 25 types of human trafficking in the United States. Each has its own business model, trafficker profiles, recruitment strategies, victim profiles, and methods of control that facilitate human trafficking.

What can businesses do?

Resources for Businesses

U.S. Department of Labor
Comply Chain
An app for companies and industry groups to assist in developing robust social compliance systems including: engaging stakeholders and partners, assessing risks and impacts, developing a code of conduct, communicating and training across the supply chain, monitoring compliance, remediating violations, independent review and reporting performance.
Reducing child labor and forced labor: a toolkit for responsible businesses
US DOL list of goods produced by child labor or forced labor

International Labour Organization
Preventing and responding to abusive and fraudulent labour recruitment: A call for action
ILO and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime call on governments, social partners, businesses, other international agencies, and all concerned stakeholders, as appropriate and in line with their respective roles and mandates, to strengthen their efforts to address abusive and fraudulent recruitment practices by considering 8 specific actions.

Institute for Human Rights and Business
Responsible Recruitment: Remediating Worker-Paid Recruitment Fees

American Sustainable Business Council
Principles of High Road Employers: A Path to Building a Sustainable Economy

Fair Hiring Toolkit

Walk Free Foundation
Tackling Modern Slavery in Supply Chains

What can local government do?

Human Trafficking Prevention Policy

City and town leaders can take an affirmative stance against the facilitation of forced labor in their business operations.  View the Attorney General's Office Human Trafficking Prevention Policy which sets out employee responsibilities and standards of conduct for the Office.

Vendor Notice and Acknowledgement

Use your buying power to help in eradicating forced labor.  Consider adding a contractor acknowledgement to your standard municipal contract that articulates your commitment to buying only lawfully produced and sourced goods and services.  Below is a standard contract term required by anyone contracting with the Office of the Attorney General:

The AGO is committed to doing its part to eradicate human trafficking and forced labor in the Commonwealth. By checking this box, the Contractor acknowledges that the Contractor understands that: (1) the AGO will insist that Contractors (including Vendors and Suppliers) with which it conducts business comply fully with all state and federal laws and regulations regarding human trafficking and forced labor, including all FAR regulations; and (2) the AGO will require assurances that all items in a supply system have been produced in accordance with the laws against human trafficking in the country in which the goods were produced.

Encourage Awareness Among Municipal Officials

View and listen to a recorded webinar offered to municipalities on July 25, 2018, by the Attorney General's Fair Labor and Human Trafficking Divisions.

Labor trafficking was designated a criminal offense as "Trafficking in Forced Services" under Massachusetts law in 2012; it is a global phenomenon, and it is happening in many of our communities.  Local officials are a key to identifying these crimes and bringing survivors out of the shadows.  This webinar will provide an overview of the problem and provide ways that building and health inspectors, code enforcement officers, assessors, licensing staff, human services staff, school department personnel, police, fire, and emergency management departments can help to identify and combat labor trafficking in our Commonwealth.

Recent News and Annoucements

AG Healey Announces Initiative to Raise Awareness About Labor Trafficking

AG Healey and Mayor Walsh Convene Business Leaders to Announce New Zero Tolerance Workplace Policies on Sex Buying

New Bedford Man and East Providence Cleaning Company Charged in Connection With Labor Trafficking


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