HIGHLIGHTS:

  • On National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, observed annually on Jan. 11, Holland & Knight reaffirms its corporate commitment to anti-human trafficking measures.
  • With increasing attention on slavery and forced labor, U.S. businesses that are part of international supply chains may be required to comply with relatively new and wide-ranging federal and state anti-human trafficking regulations.

Today, on Jan. 11, we observe National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. It was so designated in 2007, when the U.S. Senate affirmed the nation’s commitment to eliminating human trafficking globally.1 Further, each year the president issues a Presidential Proclamation deeming January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. On Dec. 31, 2015, the president issued a proclamation under which “we rededicate ourselves to assisting victims of human trafficking and to combating it in all its forms.”2 The president affirmed that “[p]eople from all walks of life are trafficked every day, and the United States is committed to remaining a leader in the global movement to end this abhorrent practice.”3

Slavery is an abomination that has plagued societies for generations. However, executives, general counsel and compliance officials may rightly ask: ''What do slavery and forced labor in other countries have to do with my company?" The answer is simple: If your business is part of an international supply chain, your U.S.-based company may very well be required to comply with relatively new and wide-ranging federal and state anti-human trafficking regulations.4

The federal government and a growing number of state governments are trying to impact human trafficking on the other side of the world, attacking the problem of global slave traders by focusing their efforts on the "consumer" side of slave labor. Failed efforts to stop trafficking at the enslavement side of the problem are being replaced by regulations forcing U.S. companies to dig deep into their own supply chains and certify to the federal government that their producers do not violate anti-human trafficking laws. Likewise, state enforcement is growing in this area, with California leading the charge into the business community space with public notification requirements. Increased regulation in this area, together with activists seeking to uncover potentially misleading statements made to consumers, is likely coming in the future.