Victims of labor trafficking are forced to work for little or no pay, often growing or manufacturing the products we use and consume every day. But identifying labor trafficking can be tricky and can be confused with both labor exploitation and labor violations.

  • Labor Exploitation is a broad term to describe when an employer is unfairly benefitting from their employee’s work, which can be subjective. Not all forms of labor exploitation are illegal.

  • Labor Violations are a crime and describe when employers violate federal, state, or municipal laws related to worker treatment, workplace safety, or recordkeeping requirements.

  • Labor Trafficking is the exploitation of an individual for the purposes of compelling their labor by the use of force, fraud, and coercion. Workers often do not have the choice to leave a labor trafficking situation and employers exert a high level of control over their victims. Trafficking victims may have their legal documents withheld, wages withheld for debts, restrictions on their movements, and poor working conditions.

Labor Exploitation Graphic

All labor violations are labor exploitation, but not all labor exploitation is a labor violation.

Common Industries where Forced Labor is Utilized:

  • Tourism/Service

  • Agriculture

  • Extraction

  • Domestic Servitude (Nannies/Housekeeping)

  • Construction

  • Manufacturing

  • Traveling Sales (magazines, knives)


the Polaris project
The Blue Campaign

“Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, but actually you’ve been planted”

- Christine Caine


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