In an effort to continue to raise awareness of human trafficking and provide available services to victims, beginning October 14, 2018, lodging facilities in New York State were required to provide informational cards in certain public spaces of the facilities.
Specifically, a recently enacted New York statute adds a section to the general business law, and requires every lodging facility to make informational cards available in plain view in the public restrooms, individual guest rooms, and near the public entrance or other conspicuous place in plain sight of the guests and employees. The legislature reasoned that the discrete size of an informational card may make it possible for a victim to take a card unnoticed and use the card to call the hotline for help at a later time.
The informational cards shall only contain information concerning services for human trafficking victims and shall prominently include the national human trafficking hotline telephone number (1-888-373-7888). The law does not specify the size requirements of the cards, exactly what information must be contained on the cards (other than the hotline telephone number) or guidelines for the appearance of the cards. A facility has three options to choose from:
- Create its own informational card;
- Use a card created by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) in conjunction with the New York State Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking; or
- Use a card created by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, through its “Blue Campaign.”
Additionally, the OTDA is developing a larger notice to be available to lodging facilities to voluntarily post which shall include, among other things, the national human trafficking hotline telephone number. The informational card statute excludes establishments treated as a dwelling unit or ones located within a building that has five or less rooms for rent or hire and is occupied as a residence for the owner.
In addition to the new statute, other legislation in New York State would mandate New York lodging facilities to require all employees who are likely to interact or come into contact with guests to undergo a human trafficking recognition training program, as developed by a federal, state or non-profit organization. This legislation did not make it to the Governor’s desk for signature and may be considered again in 2019.
For those New York hotels, motels and inns who have not yet made informational cards available, now is the time.