DETROIT — A new lawsuit has been filed in several states against 12 hotel chains. It was brought by 21 survivors of human trafficking alleging they are not doing enough to stop human trafficking.
The complaints have been filed in Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington State.
A Michigan survivor is now 29 years old and claims she was forced to work in the sex trade for several years in Detroit and Ann Arbor.
Her attorney Tiffany Ellis says the survivor was sexually assaulted by her father as a teen, moved to a foster home, and was taken advantage of there.
Ellis says federal law sets the basis for the lawsuit and the industry has not been held accountable.
Attached to the lawsuit are several ways hotel and motel staff can be trained to be the eyes and ears to human trafficking, including looking for signs of fear, physical and mental abuse, lack of freedom, no belongings or luggage, and in the company of older men.
“It was incumbent on those hotel chains to train and develop these policies and they just didn’t do it," Ellis says. "And they didn’t do it, we believe, because they were profiting from these rooms.”
Ellis says the majority of human trafficking takes place in big hotels and smaller motels.
The lawsuits could take months or years to resolve.