Everyday Heroes: How Hospitality Employees in Oregon are Fighting Human Trafficking

March 29, 2024
A group of casino workers in Oregon learning training about human trafficking.
Panel Discussion at the Wildhorse Casino which hosted a Human Trafficking Conference in Eastern Oregon, March 20-21, 2024. The Focus of the Conference was on the Power of Private-Public Partnerships in Combating Human Trafficking.

Human trafficking is a pervasive issue that often operates under the radar in everyday settings. Despite its prevalence, this crime can be difficult to detect without trained eyes to recognize the signs. This is where everyday heroes, such as hospitality employees, can play a vital role in identifying and reporting suspicious activity that could potentially save lives.

The Role of Everyday Workers

Employees in hotels and restaurants are often on the front lines of human trafficking activity. Traffickers frequently exploit these venues for their illegal operations, using them as a means to exploit victims. This is why it is crucial that hospitality employees to be trained in recognizing the red flags of human trafficking, such as unusual behavior or signs of physical abuse.

Training and Awareness

Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking (BEST) is joining forces with the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) to provide free human trafficking prevention training for ORLA’s members, with the goal of preventing the exploitation of vulnerable people in Oregon. BEST’s Inhospitable to Human Trafficking training is a 30-minute, video-based, online training available in Spanish and English. It can be taken individually on a computer, or in a group setting, and employees can receive a certificate of completion after taking the course. This free training can be easily accessed through the ORLA membership website.

Providing training for employees who work directly with the general public on how to identify and respond to potential cases of human trafficking is key to combating this crime. Education and awareness can empower individuals to take action when they suspect something is amiss. By arming employees with the knowledge and resources they need to be able to spot a potential human trafficking situation, it increases the chances of identifying victims so they can get the help they need, and it helps bring traffickers to justice.

Protecting Employees & Guests

When human trafficking happens on business properties, it’s dangerous for victims, employees, and other guests. It can also impact guests’ assessment of the safety of the location and damage brand reputation. Because of ORLA’s commitment to train its members, more human trafficking victims can be identified and connected with the supportive services they need to begin to rebuild their lives after trafficking. This approach to preventing human trafficking is essential, because when employees learn the signs, they can help create a culture where everyone steps up and steps in to make a difference in improving the safety for all guests.  


Front line employees are essential in the fight against human trafficking. By training and empowering more employees across Oregon to be able to recognize the signs of this crime, BEST and ORLA are striving to create a network of vigilant individuals who are committed to protecting the vulnerable. It is imperative that everyone in the hospitality industry helps take some responsibility for combatting human trafficking. By working together, everyday heroes can help create a safer world.