City Council approved an ordinance that requires hotels to train their employees on human trafficking. Houston is the first major US city to have an anti-trafficking ordinance and only the second city in the US after Baltimore.
Chapter 28 of the Code of Ordinances requires hotels to:
- Train all their employees on both sex and labor trafficking
- Certify that the training was conducted to the city's Administration and Regulatory Affairs department starting March 31, 2021, and annually thereafter
- Post a city-mandated sign with trafficking indicators and phone numbers for employees to report tips to local law enforcement and the National Human Trafficking Hotline
Frequently asked questions
Why did the City mandate Human Trafficking Training and Certification for hotels?
We know that traffickers often use hotels to facilitate trafficking in persons, be it for sex trafficking, moving a sex trafficking victim from city to city to exploit them or to use sub-contracted labor that is then exploited. We also know that traveling sales crews (groups of teens and/or young adults) that are forced to sell products such as magazines often stay at hotels. In a study conducted by Polaris, the national human trafficking think tank, 75% of sex trafficking victims surveyed reported being at a hotel during the course of their victimization. Furthermore, a January 27, 2020 Houston Chronicle editorial detailed the alleged victimization of 15 and 16-year old girls being sold for sex out of Houston hotels; anyone under the age of 18 is automatically a victim of sex trafficking, no elements of force, fraud or coercion are required.
How will these requirements improve public safety?
As of February 19, 2020, there are approximately 524 hotels within Houston's city limits. Over a span of 4 years, HPD conducted 269 operations at 116 hotels with the hoteliers' cooperation. Presumably, the required training, certification and sign posting will increase the tips reported to law enforcement agencies resulting in more targeted operations that span the city.
Do "hotels" include motels and extended stays?
Does this ordinance cover Air B&B owners/rentals?
How often do I as a hotel owner, operator or manager have to provide training?
Annually. Training certifications must be filed no later than March 31st of each year, the first filing will be due on March 31, 2021.
If as an owner, operator, or manager I recently provided training, do I have to provide this again?
If the training was provided within the last 12 months, you can file the training certificate with the ARA department, if it is an approved training. If the training conducted falls out of this time frame or you do not have attendance logs, you will have to provide training again. If there were changes made to the training after you used it, you will have to repeat the training and provide the associated certification. New employees need to be trained within 30 days of their hire.
Does the human trafficking prevention training for hotel employees cover both sex and labor trafficking?
Yes. If you already provide this training, review Policy No. HT-002 below for the process to get your training program approved.
Director rules and regulations
Policy No. HT-001 establishes procedures for signage and display requirements to empower employees to report human trafficking.
Hotel owners must display signage where employees can clearly see them. Signage is available in multiple languages:
Policy and procedures for employee training and certification
Helpful links for training
The ordinance prohibits retaliation against employees that report tips. Do you have concerns about human trafficking occurring? Do you feel you were retaliated against?
Report your concerns to Houston 311.
Email: [email protected]
Location: 1002 Washington Ave, 1st floor
Schedule an appointment for in-person assistance.