AUSTIN, TX – Today the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) launches a resource center for restaurants to take immediate action against human trafficking in the state.
RestaurantsRespond.com/Freedom provides downloadable signage for restaurant businesses to place in their restrooms and training for the 1.3 million employees to recognize and report the warning signs of trafficking activity. The placards include information on how victims can get help immediately and the website curates existing training opportunities for teams and managers.
Texas ranks number two among all 50 states in terms of human trafficking rates, after California, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Houston is ranked the worst city in the nation for human trafficking, largely for sexual exploitation or forced labor.
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. It is the exploitation of men, women, and children for forced labor or sex by a third-party for profit or gain.
"Sex and labor trafficking have no place in our communities, and Texas will not stand for these heinous acts," said Secretary of State Ruth R. Hughs. "With more than 50,000 restaurants across the state, the Texas Restaurant Association and its members are uniquely positioned as leaders in the fight against trafficking. By working collaboratively, we will eliminate human trafficking in the Lone Star State, and I thank TRA for their role in uniting the restaurant community around efforts to address this critical issue.”
“Human trafficking is a blight that has been hiding in the shadows for far too long,” said Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Executive Director Bentley Nettles. “TABC is proud to work with TRA and all alcohol retailers across Texas to end this evil practice. We must never forget our duty to help the victims who are being held against their will in conditions which no person should suffer.”
As the state’s sole regulator of alcoholic beverages, TABC plays a lead role in investigating human trafficking and other organized criminal activity taking place at businesses where alcohol is sold. The agency is also a member of several state and national task forces charged with investigating and disrupting trafficking in the Lone Star state.
“The impact, scale, and reach of the Texas Restaurant Association makes it a natural choice to lead the efforts against trafficking,” said Emily Williams Knight, Ed.D., CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association. “Many victims will enter a restaurant at some point and having support for them in a private place like a restroom could be the catalyst to get them the assistance they need.”
“The restaurant community is often first to respond in a crisis, and this is certainly a crisis,” said Knight. “This is a winnable fight, with far-reaching impact. I am confident our restaurants will lead this fight and that in partnership with state and local authorities, we can significantly reduce the staggering numbers we see today.”
TRA is committed to provide resources throughout the year to restaurants in the state. Through RestaurantsRespond.com/Freedom, the TRA will:
- Provide downloadable placards that restaurants can place in restrooms carrying important national and local contact information for victims to quickly find help.
- Promote existing resources for restaurants from the TABC and other state agencies.
- Create training for all employees to be able to recognize the signs of trafficking and be ready to alert law enforcement or extend a word of help to a trafficked person.
National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is Saturday, January 11, 2020.
About the Texas Restaurant Association
The Texas Restaurant Association was formed in 1937 to serve as the advocate in Texas and the indispensable resource for the foodservice industry. Today, as a leading business association, TRA represents the state’s $66 billion restaurant industry, which is comprised of more than 48,000 locations and a workforce of 1.3 million employees. Along with the Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation, the Association represents, educates and, promotes the growing industry.