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EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang Delivers Remarks at the Annual Meeting of the President's Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

White House, Washington, D.C.
January 5, 2105

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Secretary Kerry, and thank you to all of you in the room for your leadership on this urgent human rights issue. 

The EEOC has made it a national strategic priority to protect victims of trafficking. 

Often when employers and their agents engage in labor trafficking, they may also be violating anti-discrimination laws. Laws enforced by the EEOC-particularly those prohibiting discrimination based on race, national origin, and sex-can be crucial tools in combatting trafficking and obtaining compensation for victims.

Education and outreach remain important strategies to improve awareness and support trafficking identification and prevention. Since the last Task Force meeting, EEOC conducted approximately 380 anti-trafficking training events, reaching more than 24,000 attendees. We also trained staff and representatives of state and local fair employment practice agencies to identify victims of trafficking and discrimination and to develop cases on their behalf. 

Data collection is also critical. Over the past year, we have updated our charge data systems so that we now can research and track human trafficking charges to improve our ability to monitor important trends and developments. 

In addition, EEOC continues to pursue discrimination cases on behalf of trafficked workers. I would like to provide a brief update on three important cases:

  • First, in our Global Horizons case on behalf of Thai farmworkers who were allegedly trafficked to Hawaii, EEOC secured a judgment in December 2014 against the labor contractor for $8.7 million on behalf of 82 farm workers.
  • Second, in our case against Henry's Turkey, in 2013, EEOC obtained a $240 million jury verdict in favor of 32 intellectually disabled individuals. These men were subjected to trafficking and severe forms of exploitation. The award was reduced to $1.6 million based on statutory caps. Over the past two years, EEOC has been working hard to ensure compensation for the victims. In September, as a result of efforts by the EEOC and the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, we obtained $600,000 of this award by prevailing in court to void a suspicious transaction by the company that would have redirected the money away from the workers.
  • Finally, just last month, we settled our case against Signal International, which operated two labor camps where hundreds of guest workers allegedly were trafficked from India. After filing for bankruptcy, the company agreed to pay $5 million, which will compensate 476 Indian workers for claims of race and national origin discrimination.

Moving forward, EEOC will continue to vigorously enforce anti-discrimination laws on behalf of victims of trafficking. We look forward to partnering with you in this important effort.

Thank you.