Identification of Labor Trafficking in Traveling Sales

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This is the recruitment and labor trafficking experience of Jason. In this case study, a U.S. minor with needs of housing stability, income, and purpose is exploited in the traveling sales industry. Use this case study activity to practice naming possible vulnerabilities, red flags, and education opportunities. Increasing awareness of these areas helps providers better identify and serve labor trafficking—including by empowering clients with information to protect themselves against exploitation.

What were vulnerabilities present in this story?
• Lack of support system
• Traumatic loss as a child
• Possible perception of burdensomeness
• Lack of community; feeling othered
• Potential need for purpose or feelings of accomplishment
• History of unspecified abuse
• Instability caused by multiple foster placements
• Housing instability, e.g., living in his car
• Tiring lifestyle (living in a car, going to school, taking care of himself) may increase hopefulness for “too good to be true” fixes.

What were red flags of labor trafficking in this story?
• No job training or experience required
• Promise of high wage
• Promoting the job by selling a lifestyle or obtainment of dreams
• Offering to let employee pay employer back for housing
• Manipulating need for safety (housing, income stability)
• Large promises that become empty promises
• Gaslighting (making someone questions their thoughts or conclusions)
-We did pay you the correct amount
-You’re earning less because you’re not selling enough
-You misunderstood what I said in the past
• Keeping from school
• Working endless hours multiple days a week
• Money goes to paying back housing (debt bondage)
• Threats of arrest

• Labor trafficking can happen to foreign nationals and U.S. citizens
• Each state has restrictions on the type and amount of work minors can do
• Each state has age requirements for various jobs
• Wage theft, inaccurate record-keeping, not paying overtime, not offering proper breaks are all violations

For more information on violations in employee age, timekeeping, paycheck deductions, and wages, visit And, as always, contact us with your questions, comments, or ideas by emailing

Topic(s): Learning Basics, Minors, Survivor Experiences, U.S. Citizens
Resource Type: Case Study, Video
Date: February 16, 2021
Language(s): English
Author(s): Framework