Are Hotels Liable for Injuries when They Ignore Human Trafficking Rings in Illinois?

Hands with iron chain, human

Under Illinois law, hotels can be liable for injuries associated with human trafficking if they fail to prevent the trafficking rings from operating on their premises. Hotels are required to avoid participating in human trafficking and put policies in place that identify and prevent the occurrence of such activities.

Why Hotels Can Be Held Responsible for Human Trafficking

The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) can assign hotels civil and criminal liability for allowing human trafficking to take place on their property. Survivors can bring a case against traffickers and the entities that financially benefited from their victimization. Hotels benefit financially when traffickers exploit victims on their premises. According to reports, more than 80% of human trafficking arrests take place in or around hotels.

The law considers buyers of sex as traffickers. Hotels can be held liable to survivors if the employees rent rooms to buyers or traffickers, and the employees knew or should have known that the rooms were being used for commercial sex acts.

Human traffickers rely on other industries to facilitate their criminal activities, including the hotel industry. Some hotels are well known to be local bastions of human trafficking. Some employees fail to address the trafficking problems because of policies that penalize any actions that can lead to loss of profits or room vacancies. In some reports, hotel managers and staff have been found to offer special services to traffickers.

Ignoring the Warning Signs

Illinois hotel operators are required by law to train their staff on recognizing human trafficking signs. The employees intended to receive the training have recurring interactions with people, such as individuals who work in the reception areas, perform housekeeping duties, and transport guests or their possessions.

There are numerous signs of human trafficking that hotel employees can spot. These include:

  • Guests checking in with little or no luggage or identification
  • Paying for rooms with cash
  • Guests preventing housekeeping services for extended periods
  • Rooms with an excess of condoms
  • Guests going in and out of specific rooms regularly
  • Women and minors showing signs of fear, anxiety, poor hygiene, or physical injuries

Despite opportunities to detect human trafficking, hotels often ignore the signs because they are driven by profit motives. Individuals subjected to kidnapping, forced prostitution, rape, physical assault, and other injuries inside hotel rooms often work with Chicago personal injury attorneys to determine whether hotels or other entities may be liable when seeking financial compensation for their injuries.