WHD Ensuring Proper Wages in the Workplace

T Certification Standard

Justice at Work recommends that DOL significantly strengthen its support of labor trafficking survivors by rescinding recent modifications to DOL's T visa certification standards that make it harder for immigrant trafficking survivors to access the relief and benefits afforded by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). In our experience, DOL has indicated that it will not certify a T visa certification request... more »

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WHD Ensuring Proper Wages in the Workplace

Increase the number of inspectors to better identify cases

DOL Wage and Hour Division (DOL/WHD) and DOL Office of the Inspector General (DOL/OIG) inspectors are in a unique position to identify cases of forced labor in workplaces. ATEST supports the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking's recommendation that DOL increase the number of DOL/WHD and DOL/OIG inspectors across the country to better identify and refer possible trafficking cases. To meet this recommendation, DOL... more »

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WHD Ensuring Proper Wages in the Workplace

Strengthen the regulation of foreign labor recruiters

Foreign labor contractors are increasingly relied upon to facilitate the movement of labor from one country to another and strong statutory fixes as discussed above are necessary. However, there is a lot that can be done through agency intervention in this critical issue as it is well documented that foreign labor contractors are often complicit with or directly involved in the trafficking of workers. Most problematic... more »

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WHD Ensuring Proper Wages in the Workplace

Vigorously enforce labor laws and hold employers accountable

WHD should vigorously enforce labor laws to remedy abuses that make workers more vulnerable to labor trafficking. This includes aggressively enforcing workplace rights of internationally recruited workers both while they are in the United States and after they have returned to their countries of origin; increasing enforcement in labor certifications by debarring noncompliant companies; and creating an expedited investigation... more »

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WHD Ensuring Proper Wages in the Workplace

Address international labor recruitment

WHD should increase its focus on addressing international labor recruitment, a practice that often leaves temporary visa workers in a situation of debt bondage when they enter the U.S. and increases their vulnerability to labor trafficking. DOL should create an Office of International Labor Recruitment Certification housed within WHD. The Office should generate a structure to monitor international labor recruitment practices... more »

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WHD Ensuring Proper Wages in the Workplace

Ensure appropriate training for federal investigators

WHD should require that all federal investigators undergo training on issues specific to temporary work visas to combat labor trafficking in these systems, including deferred action requests, U visa certifications, T visas, visa sponsorship remedy, fraud in foreign labor contracting and recruitment abuse. DOL should work with state workforce agencies to train state investigators in every state on these same issues. DOL... more »

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WHD Ensuring Proper Wages in the Workplace

Prioritize complaints that allege retaliation

Many workers fear raising worksite complaints about worker safety because their work authorization is attached to their job. WHD should prioritize complaints that allege retaliation in order to protect workers who come forward about labor trafficking and exploitation. WHD should also issue guidance and update the Field Operations Handbook and training to ensure that WHD investigators apply a broad interpretation of retaliation... more »

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WHD Ensuring Proper Wages in the Workplace

WHD Should Enhance Training Efforts to Better Combat Trafficking

(1) WHD should ensure all newly hired and current wage and hour inspectors receive comprehensive training on human trafficking as they are the critical front line staff who may be coming into contact with victims. Training should be on both labor and sex trafficking, with a focus on forced criminality, and the overlap between sex and labor trafficking. Wage and Hour Inspectors are well positioned to identify all forms... more »

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WHD Ensuring Proper Wages in the Workplace

DOL should claim an equal seat at the table with LEA partners

DOL Wage and Hour should claim an equal seat at the table with LEA partners on human trafficking, especially in preventing and combating labor trafficking, given its expertise in engaging workers in complex systems. Additionally, civil remedies often better ensure compensation for victims and have a wider range of penalties that can be imposed to prevent businesses and others from engaging in trafficking in the future.... more »

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WHD Ensuring Proper Wages in the Workplace

Improve Investigations by Involving Partners

The Advocates for Human Rights strongly encourages DOL to ensure any protocols guarantee the involvement of social service providers and advocates early and throughout the investigation. The individuals help aid the investigation by providing needed services to make victims safe and comfortable. They also have training and skills in trauma-informed interviewing techniques and understand nuances facing special populations.... more »

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WHD Ensuring Proper Wages in the Workplace

Work with DoS to Protect J-1 Visa Holders from Trafficking

DOL should work to protect J-1 visa holders from trafficking and exploitation. This should be done through cooperation with DOS on pre-departure training, consistent and timely investigations and screening of all host programs, reliable reporting resources for complaints, and more. In our experience, the J-1 program can be valuable; however, it involves significant opportunity for exploitation where participants—who have... more »

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WHD Ensuring Proper Wages in the Workplace

Ensure ICE/ERO Protects Victims and Supports Investigations

The Advocates for Human Rights recommends DOL set-up and follow procedures for collaboration with ERO/ICE, which focus on the rights of victims and ensuring witness protections. In our experience, DOL ability to investigate has been impinged by ICE/ERO actions that apprehend victims, re-traumatizing them and making investigations/support more challenging due to possible deportation. DOL should work with ICE officials... more »

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WHD Ensuring Proper Wages in the Workplace

Technology to Identify Trafficking in Labor Supply Chains

Current efforts to identify and interdict labor trafficking are at the artisanal scale and is like trying to drain a lake of its water one cup at a time. There is vast amounts of open source data available on various aspects of the labor supply chain. Monitoring efforts are currently hampered by an inability to cross reference data points across multiple massive data sets from different agencies, companies and the internet.... more »

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WHD Ensuring Proper Wages in the Workplace

Overcoming Barriers to Investigators Interviewing Guestworkers

ISSUE ONE: Legal Action of Wisconsin's trafficked farmworker clients, particularly H-2A visa clients, repeatedly have wage and hour violations. However, when DOL W&H investigators arrive to interview these agricultural workers, our clients tell us that they feel compelled by their bad actor employer or crew leader to not answer investigator questions honestly (ie. Pressured to tell DOL investigators they've received their... more »

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