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Post by: Taylor Wise

Civil Remedies for Victims of Labor Trafficking

My name is Taylor Wise and I am a 3L student here at Regent University School of Law and I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve on the student staff for the Center for Global Justice. This semester I am working on a project for Shared Hope International regarding labor trafficking. The focus of my research is determining whether state law provides civil remedies for child labor trafficking victims.

States use a few different terms when discussing labor trafficking such as labor servitude, forced labor or services, involuntary servitude, or debt bondage. In discussing what constitutes labor trafficking there were several reoccurring elements: (1) labor and services meaning work of economic or financial value; (2) some measure of coercion, duress, or fraud being present; and (3) the intentional recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining a person for the purpose of subjecting them to perform forced labor or services.

Civil remedies available to victims of labor trafficking providing for a civil cause of action as well as requiring those convicted to pay restitution. This civil cause of action can be brought by the victim and some states even allow for the Attorney General to bring a civil action on a victim’s behalf. Restitution is also another civil remedy that is available for victims of labor trafficking. The amount of restitution is typically the greater of either the gross income or value to the defendant of the victim’s labor or services or the value of the victim’s labor as guaranteed under the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. When restitution is awarded many states specifically provide that an order of restitution does not limit the civil liability of the defendant or impair the victims’ right to a civil cause of action.

The public policy reason for allowing these victims to bring forth a civil cause of action and to receive restitution seems to be based on the idea that criminals should compensate for the damages and injuries of their victims. In addition, the court focuses on being able to make the victim whole.

This post was written by a Center for Global Justice Student Staff member. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.