In our world of increased globalization and worldwide movement of goods and capital, companies can face legal liability if they fail to guard against human trafficking not just in their direct operations but also in their supply chains. Legal liability can, in turn, hurt the reputation of companies and the interests of their investors. This paper examines how human trafficking can expose companies to legal liabilities and briefly describes actions they can take to protect themselves.
The legal and regulatory environment related to human trafficking is evolving as global focus on accountability for human rights violations increases. Federal and state governments in the United States have recently adopted—and continue to consider—laws and regulations designed to strengthen governmental capacity to combat human trafficking and prosecute those directly or indirectly involved. While many such laws and regulations are focused on civil sanctions against direct perpetrators, more recent efforts seek accountability for individuals and entities indirectly culpable for, among other things, failing to halt trafficking within their businesses’ supply chains.