A string of revolutionary civil lawsuits has grown under the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), which gives human trafficking survivors the ability to recover damages from corporations that have profited from turning a blind eye to trafficking. Babin Law filed the first lawsuit under the TVPRA against hotels. They believe the TVPRA is not only a promising tool for survivors to seek justice, but also establishes a duty for corporations to adopt stricter policies to identify and prevent trafficking within their operations. This presentation will provide an overview of the TVPRA and different cases brought against corporations. Sex trafficking survivors filed lawsuits against hotels as well as technology companies such as Backpage, Pornhub, Twitter, and others. Labor trafficking survivors have also sued companies for profiting from forced labor, such as Nestle, Mars, and Hershey who source chocolate made from child labor in the Ivory Coast. After explaining the evolution of TVPRA lawsuits against corporations, the presenter will delve deeper into the cases against hotels. The hotel industry has turned a blind eye to the obvious signs of human trafficking and continued to profit by renting rooms to traffickers. These lawsuits show the need for industry-wide change in hotel policies and procedures, like mandatory training and security protocols, to protect survivors of trafficking. Finally, these cases have a positive impact on survivors by providing a new tool to recover damages from their trafficking and a way for their story to be heard.
Trigger Warning: This presentation contains information (written, spoken, or visual) that may be triggering or (re)traumatizing to attendees.
Kristina Aiad-Toss is an Attorney at Babin Law representing human trafficking survivors in federal litigation against corporate hotel defendants. Kristina works with the American Bar Association and other non-profits on anti-sex and labor trafficking projects. Babin Law was the first firm to bring a human trafficking civil lawsuit against hotels.