Human Trafficking in Multinational Supply Chains: A Corporate Director’s Fiduciary Duty to Monitor and Eliminate Human Trafficking Violations
When Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (“2008 TVPRA”), it included language criminalizing and creating civil liability for any person who “knowingly benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value, from participation in a venture” relying on forced labor. This expansion of the law concerning labor trafficking expands the risk to corporations of being held criminally and civilly liable for human trafficking violations from which the corporation financially benefits. In addition to expanding corporate liability, the 2008 TVPRA expands corporate directors’ fiduciary duties. Corporation directors should monitor and eliminate trafficking from the corporation’s labor force and the labor force of its suppliers. Corporate directors who fail to adequately monitor supply-chain trafficking expose the corporation to liability under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act and expose themselves to shareholder derivative suits for failure to comply with fiduciary duties. To minimize this liability risk, directors must implement systems to properly oversee and monitor labor practices of the corporation and its suppliers. The 2008 TVPRA alters the status quo; corporate directors must appropriately respond to changes in the law to fulfill their fiduciary duties and minimize corporate risk of liability for trafficking violations under the statute’s financial benefits language.
J.D. Candidate, 2016, Vanderbilt University Law School; B.A., 2013, Duke University. My many thanks to Professor Newton, Professor Meyer, and Professor Wuerth for asking hard questions, sharing wisdom and knowledge, and generally helping me develop the ideas behind this Note; to Professor Richmond for helping spark this idea at a speaking event and teaching a human trafficking course; and to International Justice Mission for introducing me to the modern-day anti-trafficking movement and the pursuit of Biblical justice. My overwhelming gratitude goes to the Vanderbilt Editorial Board and Vanderbilt Notes Committee for their insight, advice, and guidance; and to my parents, family, and friends for their constant love, support, and encouragement. All mistakes and oversights are my own.