Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises on the planet, and many victims are forced to work long hours with little to no pay and no way out. In this two-part series, a South FL contractor lawyer will be discussing forced labor in construction. For all of your construction-related legal needs, partner with the experienced South FL contractor lawyers at Cotney Construction Law.
What is Forced Labor?
Forced labor is exactly what it sounds like. It is a job performed by an individual against their will out of fear of punishment to either themselves or their family. Labor traffickers will lie to victims by offering what appears to be a lucrative job or opportunity when, in reality, the position is anything but that. Traffickers will trap their victims by creating a situation in which the victim has no other option but to comply. They may steal the victim’s passport, physically abuse them, isolate them, or force them into debt. Migrants are often targeted for forced labor due to their inability to speak the local language and their limited rights and resources.
This Can’t Possibly Apply to Construction…Can It?
According to the International Labour Organization, 14.2 million victims of forced labor are in labor-intensive industries, such as construction. In the United States, the construction industry is among the list of industries with the highest prevalence of human trafficking and forced labor. While hard to believe, it is apparent that forced labor is a blight on this industry.
Construction companies looking to cut corners and keep up with labor demands turn to forced labor to avoid having to pay taxes, workers’ compensation, benefits, or fair wages. They may misclassify an employee as an independent contractor or threaten them with deportation. Unfortunately, the often complex supply chains that are common in construction make it difficult to discern when human rights are being violated. While these illegal practices are difficult to root out, they do not go unpunished, as we’ll see in part two.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.