Whenever we go on a vacation and stay in a hotel, one of the benefits is that we don’t have to do any housekeeping while we are away. You can leave your room a mess and come back that evening, and everything will be neat and clean, just as when you first arrived. While we know this isn’t magic, not everyone pays all that much attention to the many hardworking housekeepers that help make the trip more pleasant.
Unfortunately, as discussed in a recent news article from the New York Times, a new report details a great deal of exploitation by unscrupulous employers against these dedicated individuals in the hotel and hospitality industry.The government, including the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), has enforcement and investigatory powers, but it is often left to the work of private groups such as non-profits to actually find out the extent of these violations and report them to the general public and law enforcement officials.
One of the groups featured in the article focused on non-sexual exploitation the hotel industry. They allegedly discovered over 124 cases of human trafficking in the past decade, with each case involving multiple workers. These people were actually held hostage by employers and forced to work in hotels, motels, and casinos, for little or even no money and abused in many other ways. The reason this organization was not focusing on sex-based human trafficking is because there are other organizations with that as their focus, but it is definitely possible for people to be forced into the sex trade and also be forced to work at a hotel or other place in the tourism industry.
A spokesperson for the agency reports that it is not uncommon to have multiple types of human trafficking and worker exploitation occurring in the same location. We might have the hotel being the location where people are forced to engage in sex industry services, while the housekeeping staff is also being exploited and are victims of what has come to be called labor trafficking.
One issue that arises involves the underreporting of labor trafficking. For example, there is a national hotline to report human trafficking, but only around 15 percent of all reports are for labor trafficking. However, the reason for this is likely that many are not familiar with the concept of labor trafficking, and those being exploited are often afraid to come forward.
It is important to understand that an employer is prohibited from retaliating against an employee for reporting a labor code violation. This is not to say that it doesn’t happen, but if it does occur, the worker will likely have an additional cause of action against his or her employer. However, this is only general information, as the facts of every case are different, so you should speak with an experienced Orange County labor lawyer to see if you have a valid claim.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.
New Report Details Exploitation of Hotel Industry Workers, April 13, 2017, By Karen Schwartz, New York Times
More Blog Entries:
Federal Appeals Court Considers Workplace Protections for LGBT Community, Dec. 18, 2017, Orange County LGBT Discrimination Lawyer Blog