The U.S. Department of Labor's mission is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of workers and ensure that all workers – such as miners, farm workers, and factory workers – have a voice. Unfortunately, workers sometimes experience working conditions that fall below basic standards of human dignity and, in some cases, leave them vulnerable to human trafficking.

The Department of Labor has an important role to play in combating trafficking in persons in the United States and abroad, in collaboration with federal, state and local, and international partners. We have focused our work around three strategic priorities:

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  1. Enforcing Labor Protections - Domestically, through our civil enforcement of federal labor laws, such as minimum wage, overtime, and workplace safety laws, the department supports federal law enforcement agencies by detecting and referring potential instances of trafficking in persons, calculating restitution amounts owed to victims, and addressing underlying conditions of labor exploitation.

    The Department of Labor strategically focuses its enforcement efforts on industries where labor law violation rates are high and vulnerable low-wage workers are often reluctant to assert their rights and raise their voices. The department also conducts outreach and monitoring of migrant and seasonal farmworkers, another potentially vulnerable population. Because many of our investigations and outreach efforts take place in industries that employ vulnerable workers, the department is often the first federal agency to make contact with these workers and to detect exploitation in the workplace.

    The Department of Labor's enforcement of federal labor laws and whistleblower protections are also critical to the fight against trafficking because we can potentially address labor exploitation before it rises to the level of labor trafficking. We believe that the fight against labor trafficking can succeed only if its fundamental root causes are understood and addressed.
  2. Assisting Survivors - Through our employment and training resources and expertise, the Department of Labor also helps survivors of trafficking reenter the workforce and gain access to economic opportunity. Survivors, including youth and adults, can receive individualized career services and training services and support from case managers to get connected to eligible programs based on their work history and specific barriers to employment.
  3. Monitoring Trafficking Internationally - And internationally, through our research and funding for grants overseas, the Department of Labor facilitates international research, technical assistance, and monitoring, especially on the worst forms of child labor. We have the authority under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 to monitor and combat forced labor and child labor in foreign countries.