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Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking is a crime involving the exploitation of someone for the purposes of compelled labor or a commercial sex act through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Where a person younger than 18 is induced to perform a commercial sex act, it is a crime regardless of whether there is any force, fraud, or coercion. Victims can be anyone from around the world or right next door: women and men, adults and children, citizens and noncitizens alike.


For immediate assistance, contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline by:

Contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline to: 

  • GET HELP and connect with a service provider in your area;
  • REPORT A TIP with information on potential or suspected human trafficking activity; or
  • LEARN MORE by requesting training, technical assistance, or resources.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline is a national, toll-free hotline available by phone, TTY, SMS text, and live online chat function. It is available to answer calls from anywhere in the U.S. and U.S. territories, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. The Hotline provides assistance in more than 200 languages. The NHTRC provides survivors of human trafficking with vital support and options to get help and stay safe, these options may include connecting callers with emergency shelter, transportation, trauma counselors, local law enforcement, or a range of other services and support. The Hotline is not a law enforcement or immigration authority and is operated by a nongovernmental organization partially funded by the Federal government. 

Contact the federal government for additional assistance: 

  • U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at 1-800-669-4000; 1-800-669-6820 (TTY for Deaf/Hard of Hearing callers only); 1-844-234-5122 (ASL Video Phone for Deaf/Hard of Hearing callers only); (email).
  • U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime, Human Trafficking (
  • U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division ( at 1-866-4USWAGE (1-866-487-9243); 1-877-889-5627 (TTY for Deaf/Hard of Hearing callers only) for cases where labor exploitation may be present but does not rise to the threshold of trafficking.
  • U.S. Department of Labor OIG Hotline at 1-202-693-6999 or 1-800-347-3756,, or 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to report allegations of trafficking committed through fraud in DOL programs, including, but not limited to, the H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, and PERM. When filing an OIG Hotline complaint, it is not necessary to provide names or any other identifying information.

Human Trafficking and EEO Law

Anti-discrimination laws enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), particularly those prohibiting discrimination on the bases of race, national origin, sex, including sexual harassment, and disability, are an integral part of the fight against human trafficking. When force, fraud, or coercion are used to compel labor or exploit workers, traffickers and employers may be violating not only criminal laws but also the anti-discrimination laws enforced by the EEOC. Whether or not a criminal trafficking prosecution is pursued in a particular case, civil enforcement and litigation of anti-discrimination laws can be important to vindicating federally protected rights and obtaining remedies for victims.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including sexual harassment and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information. It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because the person, or someone closely associated with the person, complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. Individuals are protected from discrimination regardless of immigration status or authorization to work. Generally, employers with at least 15 employees are covered by EEOC-enforced laws (20 employees in age discrimination cases). Most labor unions and employment agencies are also covered. The laws apply to all types of work situations, including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits.

National Origin and Race Discrimination: Trafficking cases often involve discrimination on the basis of national origin or race. Even when employees are legally brought into this country, employers may discriminate on the basis of national origin or race through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. This discrimination may include harassment and setting different terms and conditions of employment. It also may include retaliation against workers for exercising their rights under the anti-discrimination laws by threatening them with or subjecting them to suspension from work, deportation, physical harm, or fraud. In trafficking cases, it is not unusual for employers to maintain segregated jobs, pay unequal wages, or deduct unreasonable amounts from paychecks in these situations. 

Sexual Harassment: Many labor trafficking cases involve sexual exploitation. Trafficked women are sometimes sexually assaulted or subjected to other severe sexual harassment. The EEOC is the federal agency charged with preventing, investigating, and remedying sex discrimination, including sexual harassment. The EEOC has experience investigating and litigating sexual harassment cases generally, including cases brought on behalf of immigrant women workers.

Disability Discrimination: Trafficking cases can also involve discrimination on the basis of disability. Traffickers target those who are most vulnerable, including persons with intellectual, developmental, or mental health disabilities who may be unaware of the extent to which their legal rights are being denied. The EEOC has experience investigating and litigating disability discrimination cases that involve trafficking. These cases may involve abusive verbal and physical harassment, restriction of freedom of movement, and other harsh terms and conditions of employment, such as requiring workers to live in deplorable and sub-standard living conditions.

What EEOC can do...