During the 2018 legislative session, Maine lawmakers overrode Governor LePage’s veto to ensure passage of a new law intended to protect some of the state’s most vulnerable workers: victims of human trafficking who are forced into providing labor with threats, abuse, and manipulation.
Although most of the the new law focuses on the ability to prosecute bad actors, the law also requires some good guys to step in by letting victims and bystanders know who to call for help. Starting August 2, 2018 hotels, motels, emergency medical facilities, strip clubs, check cashing businesses, and other businesses which may be especially likely to encounter human trafficking victims must post a new Maine Human Trafficking Awareness Poster.
Maine Cracks Down On Labor Trafficking
The poster requirement is just one portion of a new law designed to help victims of forced labor escape their traffickers and obtain justice. Although much of the focus on human trafficking has historically focused on sex trafficking, particularly of minors, advocates are increasingly turning their eyes to the impact of forced labor. Advocates cited in a 2017 report from the Maine Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil estimate that “labor trafficking constitutes almost one-third of the total human trafficking market.”
Forced labor has been found in construction, manufacturing, agriculture, and logging operations within Maine, but labor trafficking can occur in any industry with victims of any age. In a news release, Senator Amy Volk (R-Cumberland), the bill’s sponsor, reported meeting labor trafficking survivors “as young as my own children, others older than I am” and expressed her hope that “by clarifying forced labor in Maine Statute, we will curb demand and bring abusers to justice.”
LD 1740 expands the category of a “human trafficking offense” to include forced labor as well as sex trafficking. Under the new law, it is a Class C criminal offense to compel a person to provide labor or services by way of false statements or omissions; taking advantage of a person’s disability which affects their cognitive or volitional functions; withholding medication from a person with a medical need, or drugs or alcohol from a person who is physically dependent; confiscating or destroying a passport or other government identification document; and force or instilled fear of force that would cause harm to a person’s health, safety, or immigration status.
The crime is an aggravated offense if the person compelled to provide labor is under the age of 18.
New Maine Human Trafficking Awareness Poster
LD 1740 also requires specified private businesses and employers and state agencies to post a new Maine Human Trafficking Poster in order to spread awareness and provide resources to potential victims. Effective August 2, 2018, posting is required for:
- Hospitals and other facilities licensed to provide emergency medical services;
- Licensed eating and lodging places (i.e. hotels, motels, guest homes and cottages);
- An adult entertainment nightclub or bar, adult spa, establishment featuring strippers or erotic dancers or other sexually oriented business;
- Money transmitters;
- Check cashing businesses and foreign currency exchange businesses;
- Department of Labor career centers; and
- Offices that provide services under the Governor’s Jobs Initiative Program.
The Maine Human Trafficking Poster must be posted within the business or place of employment in a conspicuous manner that is clearly visible to the public and to employees. Failure to post is a civil violation resulting in a fine of $300 per violation.
The Maine Human Trafficking Poster reminds victims and individuals who believe that someone they know may be a victim that forced labor, sex trafficking, and human trafficking are crimes under state and federal law. The poster also provides the telephone number, TTY (teletypewriter) number, and text messaging number for the confidential 24/7 National Human Trafficking Hotline. The National Human Trafficking Hotline has providing information and resources to human trafficking victims and the public since 2007. In 2017 alone, the hotline received 26,557 calls, 62 of which originated in Maine.
CPC provides the Maine Human Trafficking Poster in a full-color, 8.5” x 11” format with double-sided lamination to prevent tearing, marking, and other damage to your poster. The poster is available in English for $9.95.
Maine is only the most recent state to launch a public awareness campaign for trafficking victims. Posting a state-specific Human Trafficking Awareness Poster is currently mandatory for specified industries in multiple states, including Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Virginia.
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Please keep in mind that we are unable to provide legal advice.