January 2021 is formally designated as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month by Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Chair Janet Dhillon. The following is reprinted from EEOC.gov
Combating human trafficking is a priority for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Human trafficking is a heinous crime. The range of illicit activities include sex trafficking, debt enslavement, and forced labor. It is an everyday problem that hides in plain sight. It is pervasive and indifferent to one’s economic standing, culture, age, nationality, gender, or race, and can happen anywhere in our communities – occurring in rural and urban areas – and across industries. Nearly 25 million people are living in modern slavery, which generates millions in illicit profits each year.
The EEOC has taken a multi-pronged approach to enhance awareness and the prevention of human trafficking. When the EEOC investigates employment discrimination charges, some complaints may involve forms of trafficking that occur during the scope of employment or hiring process. We then coordinate with federal government partners who enforce laws that criminalize human trafficking. If the human-trafficking practice also violates EEOC-enforced laws, we can help victims obtain civil damages for those offenses. The Commission provides cognitive interview training for our investigators, state partners, and Tribal Employment Rights offices. This training prepares investigators to work with victims of human trafficking because it focuses on why and how trauma impacts the brain and how to conduct an interview in cases involving trauma.
The EEOC takes proactive steps to increase public awareness of trafficking by working closely with community partners to reach and educate our most vulnerable workers and employers. The Commission has allocated resources to ensure our program and services are accessible to those with limited English proficiency, and we have over 134 bilingual staff members located throughout our 53 offices that provide translations and interpretations services. Our website is mobile accessible and can accept charges online. We continue to find innovate ways to extend our reach in remote locations by leveraging technology to promote awareness and prevention of human trafficking. In FY 2020, the EEOC conducted or otherwise participated in 120 outreach events that included human trafficking, reaching 12,020 attendees. Through our Vulnerable Workers Task Force, we are evaluating our agency’s programs and services for opportunities to improve our reach and service to our most vulnerable workers.
The EEOC partners with federal, state, and tribal agencies and community groups to share resources to better serve our vulnerable populations. We also participate on the Presidential Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, which is comprised of agencies across the federal government and coordinates the U.S. government-wide efforts to combat human trafficking.
During this National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention month, we reaffirm our continued commitment to ending trafficking by working tirelessly to protect and serve our most vulnerable populations.