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A new Illinois state law requires certain employers to post notices informing employees and other members of the public of a helpline to assist any person who is subject to human trafficking. This law, effective Jan. 1, 2016, and entitled the “the Human Trafficking Resource Center Notice Act,” largely tracks the requirements of a California law that became effective in April 2013.
The notice provides the phone number for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center as a helpline for any person “being forced to engage in any activity and cannot leave, whether it is commercial sex, housework, farm work, construction, factory, retail, or restaurant work, or any other activity ….”
Although the notice is broadly applicable to individuals enduring forced labor in all industries, the requirement to post the notice is limited to the following Illinois businesses specifically enumerated in the law:
The notice recently became available for download on the Illinois Department of Human Services website. Covered businesses must post the notice in a conspicuous place near the public entrance of the establishment or in another conspicuous location in clear view of the public and employees where similar notices are customarily posted. The notices must be in both English and Spanish, and under certain circumstances, in a third language if that language is the most widely spoken in the county where the business is located.
The Illinois Department of Labor is charged with enforcing this law. Businesses that fail to properly post the notice are liable for a civil penalty of $500 for a first offense, and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.
This notice requirement is part of a broader effort by the Illinois State government to clamp down on forced labor. As an example, in November 2015, the Illinois Attorney General filed suit against certain employment agencies and Chinese restaurants for alleged “abusive and discriminatory treatment of Latino workers” by placing “vulnerable, immigrant workers in exploitative restaurant jobs across the country.6 In particular, the suit alleged racial discrimination in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the Illinois Human Rights Act, as well as violations of Illinois minimum wage, overtime, and “one day rest in seven” laws.
Thus, while Illinois employers that fall under the new posting law should be mindful of the posting requirements, all Illinois employers should expect increased government scrutiny for signs of forced or exploitative labor within their operations.
This new Illinois law is one of the myriad and recent legislative and regulatory developments aimed at stamping out human trafficking, including the recent amendments to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and the UK Modern Slavery Act.
Republished with permission. © 2016 Littler. All rights reserved.
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