Business and Labor

Bill would mandate hotel employee trafficking training

All Nebraska hotel employees would be required to undergo mandatory training on human trafficking issues under a bill considered Feb. 12 by the Business and Labor Committee.

Sen. Rita Sanders
Sen. Rita Sanders

LB1408, sponsored by Bellevue Sen. Rita Sanders, would require the state’s existing human trafficking task force to work with the state Department of Labor to develop a curriculum for the training and determine how it would be provided. The training would involve guidance on how to identify individuals at risk, signs of human trafficking and guidance on the role of hospitality employees in reporting and responding to potential or suspected human trafficking.

The bill also would require hotels to implement procedures for reporting suspected human trafficking and a prevention policy for all employees. A hotel that is out of compliance with the bill’s provisions would have 90 days to remedy violations before being placed on a list of noncompliant entities.

Finally, the measure provides that any owner, operator or employee of a hotel that “complies in good faith” would not be held liable for any human trafficking related act committed by a third party at the hotel unless the owner, operator or employee knowingly assists in the commission of the act.

Sanders said the state attorney general’s office provides training that could be used to fulfill the bill’s provisions at no cost to hotels and that the measure could make a meaningful difference in the state’s efforts to combat human trafficking.

“Prior success rates in other states not only show the importance of this but also the need,” Sanders said. “Since the release of human trafficking training in 2020, 1.2 million hotel workers [nationally] have been trained to identify and recognize the signs of human trafficking.”

Katie Wright, senior director of state and local government affairs for the American Hotel and Lodging Association, testified in support of the measure. The hotel industry is leading the response to human trafficking, she said, and is committed to training its workers.

“There is no room in the hospitality industry for human trafficking,” Wright said.

Speaking on behalf of the Nebraska Hospitality Association, Rich Otto also testified in support. The association appreciates that a free training already exists through the attorney general’s office and that the bill allows hotels 90 days to provide the training before being listed as noncompliant, he said.

Randi Scott, representing the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys raised concerns about the bill’s immunity provision. Speaking in opposition to the measurse, she stressed the importance of upholding the right to a trial by jury and said the immunity provision would prevent an individual’s peers from deciding a case and instead allow the Legislature to preemptively deny access to the courts.

“Our opposition is strictly to that provision only in the bill and not to any content or to the purpose of the bill,” Scott said, adding that the association would continue to work with Sanders to make changes to that section of LB1408.

The committee took no immediate action on the proposal.

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