In Houston, three female sex trafficking victims are suing three major hotel chains in simultaneous federal lawsuits. They say that the hotels are not doing enough to prevent sex trafficking at their franchises. The lawsuits claim that Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Choice Hotels International and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts should bear some responsibility for the actions of their franchisees, which the plaintiffs say turned a blind eye, or worse, to signs of sex trafficking on their properties.
“The approach of this lawsuit is that sex trafficking is a public health crisis,” says Gabrielle Banks, a federal courts reporter for the Houston Chronicle, “and that all the businesses that facilitate [sex trafficking] should be held accountable, including the upper echelons of the companies that own these little franchises.”
Banks says this is because the majority of reported incidents of trafficking take place in hotels.
According to the lawsuits, as reported by the Houston Chronicle, “Traffickers have long capitalized on the hotel industry’s refusal to adopt companywide anti-trafficking policies, refusal to train staff on what to look for and how to respond, and failure to establish a safe and secure reporting mechanism, and they have exploited the seclusion and privacy of hotel rooms.”
Banks says that in Houston, plaintiffs say they were trafficked at La Quinta, Comfort Inn and DoubleTree hotels. The plaintiffs also say that the parent companies of these establishments are “nefarious enablers” of the problem.
Written by Morgan Kuehler.