Changes in Arkansas law: human trafficking notice

On February 19, 2013, Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe signed the Human Trafficking Act of 2013 into law. Sponsored by Representatives David Meeks (R-Conway) and Greg Leding (D-Fayetteville), the Act passed the 89th General Assembly unanimously. Arkansas Statute § 12-19-102 requires certain Arkansas employers to post conspicuous notices about human trafficking in the workplace.

The notice

The notice, written in both English and Spanish, must state: "If you or someone you know is being forced to engage in any activity and cannot leave — whether it is commercial sex, housework, farm work, or any other activity — call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-373-7888 to access help and services. Victims of Human Trafficking are protected under United States and Arkansas state law. More information is also available at www.polarisproject.org. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, toll- free, operated by a non-profit, non-governmental organization, anonymous and confidential, accessible in 170 languages, able to provide help, referral to services, training, and general information."

Posting requirements

The notice must be at least 8½" x 11" in size and posted in a conspicuous place near the facility entrance or where posters and notices of this type are customarily placed. The law requires that all hotels, motels, or other establishments that have been cited as a public nuisance for prostitution under Arkansas Statute § 20-27-401 post the notice. The law also requires all strip clubs or other sexually oriented businesses to post the notice. Any private club that has a liquor permit for on-premises consumption and doesn't hold itself out to be a food service establishment must post the notice. All airports, train stations that serve passengers, and bus stations are required to post the notice. All privately owned and operated facilities that provide food, fuel, showers, or other sanitary facilities and a location for overnight parking (e.g., gas stations and truck stops) are required to post the notice.

The poster is available on websites operated by (1) the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (where documents associated with obtaining a liquor license or alcoholic beverage license are customarily located), (2) the Arkansas Department of Labor, and (3) the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department. Owners or operators of an establishment required to post the notice may print the poster from any of the listed providers' websites. Owners and operators may also obtain a poster by mail if they remit the cost of printing and first-class postage.

The penalty

If the regulatory agency that licenses or issues permits for the business finds that the establishment has failed to post the required information, the owner or operator shall receive a warning for a first violation and a maximum fine of $500 for a second or subsequent violation. Each day of violation or noncompliance shall constitute a separate and distinct violation. The civil fines do not apply to establishments that are owned or operated by the state of Arkansas.

Bottom line

If you are an owner or operator of one of the listed establishments, be sure to print the notice and post it at the entrance of your business to comply with the new law. Failure to post the required notice could result in a fine of up to $500 per day.

Steve Jones is an employment law attorney with Jack Nelson Jones & Bryant, P.A. You may contact him at 501-375-1122 orsjones@jacknelsonjones.com.

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