Pursuing the Maximum Recovery Against Businesses That Facilitate Human Trafficking
While slavery and involuntary servitude were abolished in the U.S. over 150 years ago by the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, human trafficking and forced labor have been estimated to generate over $150 billion worldwide. The U.S. Department of Labor has identified 148 products from 75 countries that are manufactured through forced and child labor. This type of human trafficking can take the form of involuntary child labor, debt bondage, and forced labor. Labor traffickers utilize threats, deception, violence, and other forms of coercion to compel victims to work in many different U.S industries and jobs, such as farm workers, domestic servants, and factory workers. Although human trafficking is a criminal offense, the civil litigation system offers the potential for financial compensation to victims who have been trafficked. Many corporations and other businesses increase their profits by utilizing labor provided by enslaved workers.
Parker Waichman LLP represents trafficked workers who feel they have suffered exploitation as well as physical and emotional harm. Our labor trafficking attorneys believe companies that have obtained illegal gains by exploiting enslaved workers should compensate these victims for violating their human rights. Our clients have found a sense of vindication, fairness, and justice based on Parker Waichman LLP filing a lawsuit for compensation against the exploiting businesses.
What Is Labor Trafficking?
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), a federal human trafficking statute, defines human trafficking in this context as knowingly providing or obtaining the services or labor of an individual by use of physical, emotional, or psychological coercion. The force applied can be conspicuous like an act of physical abuse or more subtle like an implied threat to report undocumented immigration status to the authorities. The federal statute prohibits several forms of conduct related to trafficking of humans that include recruiting, harboring, enticing, providing or receiving anything of value for involvement in the trafficking venture with the knowledge that coercion was utilized to compel the forced labor or services.
Potential Parties in a Labor Trafficking Lawsuit
While the organization or individual that perpetrates human trafficking constitutes the most obvious defendant in a labor trafficking claim, third-parties that benefit from the trafficking also can be financially responsible under certain circumstances. Companies that profit from the use of compulsory labor can be liable for their role in participating in the operation of the unlawful human trafficking. Our law firm analyzes human trafficking situations to identify all potential defendants, which include companies that knowingly allow human trafficking and involuntary servitude in their labor supply chain.
Legal Theories Our Labor Trafficking Lawsuit Attorneys Might Use to Obtain Compensation for Victims
Individuals can file a lawsuit for financial compensation against parties that force them into involuntary servitude under the private right of action authorized by the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPR) of 2003. The rights of persons forced into labor were expanded by the Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, which approved lawsuits against parties that “knowingly benefit” from what they “should have known” was a trafficking venture. Plaintiffs in these lawsuits can seek both damages and an attorney fee award. The expanded reach of this statute allows human trafficking victims to pursue liability against third-parties who benefit from trafficking in their labor supply chain.
Why Do You Need an Experienced Labor Trafficking Lawyer?
While individuals compelled to engage in labor because of actual or threatened physical or mental force or the use of fraud have no legal obligation to use an attorney, human trafficking liability is an emerging area of law. Our experience with these complex cases and their changing and evolving legal standards and principles can provide a significant advantage when pursuing a claim for compensation against a human trafficker. Along with the novelty of human trafficking litigation, these cases also tend to be complicated by the need to prove challenging legal and factual issues. These issues include choosing between federal and state law and courts, as well as analyzing and presenting subtle facts to prove the constructive knowledge of entities benefiting from trafficking.
Compensation under the TVPA in a Slave Labor Lawsuit
The TVPA typically constitutes the best cause of action (legal claim) in this type of lawsuit. The leading case of Ricchio v. McLean decided by the First Circuit Federal Court of Appeals illustrates the subtle factual distinctions in these cases. Although the case dealt with human trafficking to compel participation in prostitution, the case demonstrates the importance of persuasive advocacy regarding subtle factual distinctions in civil lawsuits involving human trafficking. The court allowed a lawsuit to move forward against a hotel operator based on the legal grounds it possessed “constructive knowledge” (should have known) of trafficking activity involving prostitution taking place on the premises. Evidence the court considered persuasive included:
- The defendants disregarded the apparent physical decline of the victim.
- The defendants did not intervene when the smuggler used physical force to compel the victim back into her room.
- Pleas by the victim who was trying to escape were disregarded by the hotel operators.
These types of facts were sufficient for a jury to find that the hotel operators also were liable under the TVPA because they profited from the smuggling venture through the collection of rental income for the rooms. The intense factual inquiry involved in proving the liability of defendants in a labor trafficking lawsuit makes skilled and experienced legal representation imperative. Since potential defendants might have varying amounts of insurance coverage and assets, the compensation received can depend on your attorney’s ability to persuasively present facts justifying the liability of a particular defendant. The court can award compensation for physical and emotional harm, attorney fees, and other applicable damages.
Alternative Legal Grounds for Imposing Liability in a Labor Trafficking Case
A successful labor trafficking claim requires effective decisions regarding your choice of legal theories as well as your decision to pursue a state or federal lawsuit. While the TVPA offers an effective litigation alternative in federal court, every state has adopted a human trafficking law. Many of these statutes are based on the TVPA and permit individuals to bring a civil lawsuit for damages. In certain states, a lawsuit filed under a state’s trafficking statute might constitute the best legal approach. Our law firm also might bring a negligence claim depending on the role of a particular defendant and the specific circumstances of a case.
Parker Waichman LLP — Experienced Forced Labor Attorneys
Parker Waichman LLP offers the expertise and litigation resources of a large national law firm while providing a focus on individualized client services. We have recovered more than 2 billion dollars in settlements and judgments for our clients. Our firm has developed a reputation for excellence based on reviews and ratings from a wide range of companies in the legal field, including the following:
- Nearly perfect 9.8 rating by AVVO (rates every attorney/law firm in the U.S.)
- Awarded “Preeminent AV Rating” by Martindale-Hubbell (Peer Review)
- “Best Law Firm” list in U.S. News and World Report
- “5 Dragon Rating” by Law Dragon (Extensive Peer Review)
Our labor trafficking lawyers at Parker Waichman LLP share an ongoing commitment to striving to obtain the best outcome for our clients and to provide exemplary legal representation. We recognize that workers subjected to human trafficking often endure mental and physical torment, deplorable workplace conditions and wages, and other forms of exploitation. While you might have the right to file a lawsuit if you have been subjected to coercion, physical force, threats, or fraud to compel you into involuntary servitude, strict timing requirements must be met to ensure your rights are protected. We invite you to talk to one of our lawyers at Parker Waichman LLP to ensure you receive the legal compensation you are entitled to under the law. Call us at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
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