|The Senate Government Organization Committee, meeting on Tuesday, adopted Senate Bill 472, which is based on §16-6-3 to exclude hotels “wherein there are fewer than 10 bed chambers, nor to any hotel known as a ‘summer hotel’ which is not open for guests from November 15-Ma, from bill provisions.
“Human-awareness training” is to be provided for employees who “perform housekeeping duties in the rental units or who work at the front desk or reception area where guests ordinarily check in or check out.”
New employees must receive the training within 60 days after their employment commences or by January 1, 2025, whichever occurs later.
Local departments of health must approve the training, which must include elements relating to the definition of human trafficking, sex trafficking, and labor trafficking, how to identify individuals who may be victims of human trafficking, as well as guidance about employee reporting and responding to suspected human trafficking.
Employees must document that they received the training.
The measure has additional requirements, which are effective January 1, 2025:
· Implementation of a procedure for the reporting of suspected human trafficking to the National Human Trafficking Hotline or to a local law enforcement agency.
· Posting in a conspicuous location in the establishment accessible to employees a human-trafficking public awareness sign that states in English and Spanish and any other language predominantly spoken in that area that the department deems appropriate substantially the following: “If you or someone you know is being forced to engage in an activity and cannot leave, whether it is prostitution, housework, farm work, factory work, retail work, restaurant work, or any other activity, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 888-373-7888 or text INFO or HELP to 233-733 to access help and services.” Victims of slavery and human trafficking are protected under United States and West Virginia Law.
Administrative penalties are $2,000 per day and have a 45-day correction period.
Second or subsequent penalties have no correction period.
Committee debate focused largely on the effects of the legislation on smaller or boutique hotels, with both counsel and a representative of the state’s Hospitality and Association saying templates meeting bill provisions should be available from various sources.
Senator Mike Stuart of Kanawha County said he supports the legislation and noted its impact as a mandate, especially on smaller hotels.
When reminded the bill has a second reference to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Stuart said, “End of comments.”