In late September 2018, Governor Brown signed into law Senate Bill 970 (“SB 970”) which mandates training on what are the signs and indications of slavery and human trafficking for workers in the hospitality industry. See report here. The law applies to all hotels and motels regardless of size. Thus, the law will impact small and medium businesses here in San Diego and elsewhere in California. The new training must be completed by January 1, 2019. In addition, a companion law requires the posting of certain Notices and requires the mandatory training for certain workers in the transit industry.

SB 970 was sponsored by State Senator Toni Atkins (D), the president pro tempore of the Senate, who represents voters in parts of San Diego County. See text of SB 970 here.

Under the new statute, hotels and motels but not bed and breakfast establishments are mandated to give twenty minutes of interactive training, face-to-face or online, with respect to slavery and human trafficking awareness to each employee “likely to interact or come into contact with victims” of the same. The law defines these workers to include “… an employee who has reoccurring interactions with the public, including, but not limited to, an employee who works in a reception area, performs housekeeping duties, helps customers in moving their possessions, or drives customers.”

The training must include the following five topics:

  • The definition of human trafficking and commercial exploitation of children
  • Guidance on how to identify individuals who are most at risk for human trafficking
  • The difference between labor and sex trafficking specific to the hotel sector
  • Guidance on the role of hospitality employees in reporting and responding to this issue
  • The contact information of appropriate agencies, including, but not limited to, the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free telephone number, 1-888-373-7888, and text line, 233733, and the telephone numbers of the appropriate local law enforcement agencies.

Penalties for non-compliance are $500 for the first violation and $1,000 for each violation thereafter. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing is also empowered to seek injunctions requiring compliance.

The training is now an ongoing requirement for motels and hotels. After January 1, 2019, each new employee must receive the human trafficking training within six months of hire and then every two years thereafter.

As noted, there is a companion law that was also signed by Governor Brown that requires that certain Notices be placed conspicuously about human trafficking. See Assembly Bill 2034 (“AB 2034”). The Notice must be at least the size of a normal sheet of paper and must provide certain information about human trafficking including who to call if you suspect slavery or trafficking. The notice requirement applies to motel, hotel and to bed and breakfast establishments and a list of about 12 other types of businesses such as urgent care facilities, private job recruitment centers, rest areas, etc.

AB 2034 also requires 20 minutes of training for employees working for intercity passenger rail or light rail and bus stations. Like SB 970, the training must be interactive and covers a similar list of topics.

Contact San Diego Corporate Law

If you would like more information, contact attorney Michael Leonard, Esq., of San Diego Corporate Law. Mr. Leonard can be reached at (858) 483-9200 or via email.

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