Missing work documents may raise suspicions of labor trafficking

Migrant workers who appear to lose or misplace their visa documents may raise suspicions that a business is engaging in labor trafficking. As noted by the Texas Attorney General, an employer or third-party individual who holds or controls a worker’s identification documents may trigger an investigation.

With a lack of a valid ID or personal bank account, a worker might appear as though his or her job is a result of threat or coercion. As described by the American Bankers Association, tellers generally receive training to look for red flags during transactions. Suspicions may arise, for example, if an individual presents a large paycheck and a portion of the funds make their way back into an account owned by the employer.

A bank activity report could trigger an investigation

A business owner may come under investigation if a bank files a suspicious activity report. An investigator may visit a workplace to determine whether a labor law violation occurred. Law enforcement may question employees and request documents.

After an investigation, officials convicted a Texas resident for exploiting employees who traveled to the U.S. with valid work visas. As described by The U.S. Department of State website, he allegedly threatened them with deportation for complaining or leaving the worksite and confiscated their documents and passports.

Business owners may protect themselves and their reputations

A business owner may avoid raising suspicions of labor trafficking by offering workers a company-issued ID card. Paychecks printed with the employee’s address show that the individual has a separate residence. This helps demonstrate that he or she does not live and work at the employer’s establishment.

If a business owner believes law enforcement has initiated a labor trafficking investigation, gathering the relevant and supporting legal documents assists in preparing a defense. Well-maintained employee records, paycheck and tax data may counter a prosecutor’s allegations.