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Knocking at Your Door: Labor Trafficking on Sales Crews

Labor trafficking has been left unchecked in the traveling sales crews industry for decades. Abusive managers use psychological manipulation, violence, sexual harassment or assault, and abandonment in unfamiliar cities to pressure victims into working harder and to intimidate those who wish to leave their situation.

Traffickers avoid detection by frequently moving their operating locations and even changing the names of their businesses. Attempts to address exploitation over the years have failed, and sales crews are the second most reported labor trafficking industry on the National Human Trafficking Resource Center* hotline and BeFree Textline.

Knocking at Your Door: Labor Trafficking on Traveling Sales Crews provides an in-depth analysis of the factors that allow this crime to persist and encourages greater understanding of the extensive abuses within the industry. The report makes several recommendations, including:

  • Congress should amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in order to cover door-to-door sales,
  • The Federal Government should investigate abuses of the J-1 visa program
  • Law enforcement should pursue bad actors at the top of the sales network instead of focusing on crew members violating local anti-solicitation laws,
  • Service organizations should recognize crew members as victims of labor trafficking so they can receive support,
  • The publishing industry should ensure transparent business supply chains in their magazine sales, and
  • Consumers should use caution when buying magazines or other items from sales crews.

*The NHTRC is now the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline.

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Need help? Polaris operates the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline.