FBI Discusses Labor Trafficking

Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) discussed labor trafficking at Mason County Sheriff Casey Salisbury’s Law Enforcement Breakfast Friday. Supervisory Special Agent Don Treat told MasonWebTV Powered by HCC that labor trafficking is basically when an employer knowingly forces an employee to work outside of normal work hours for low pay and no over site.

“They usually do it through force and violence or, more commonly, through some threat of legal process,” SSA Treat explained. “A threat that if you are here out of status, you will be deported.”

Treat also ran down the types of businesses that have historically committed labor trafficking. “We see it commonly in agriculture, in massage parlors, in the hospitality industry, in restaurants, and in elder care.”

According to the agent, there are two indicators you can use to tell labor trafficking is occurring. “There’s an indicator you can get by looking at some one who is a victim and an indicator you would get by looking at a workplace.”

Some of the victim indicators are avoiding eye contact, wearing dirty clothing or the same clothing repeatedly, and appearing submissive.

The workplace indicators include the employee living at the business, employees are of the same ethnicity or culture, and the employer is verbally or physically abusive to the employee.

“No one indicator is dis-positive,” the SSA says there are reasonable explanations for many of them, “You are looking for a universe of indicators – some sort of tipping point.”

If you do suspect labor trafficking, you should contact the FBI at (206) 622-0460 or local law enforcement.

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