Delaware Bill Mandates Human Trafficking Awareness Signs

Delaware massage establishments are among businesses required to display human trafficking awareness signs. Recently signed into law, Senate Bill 43 details specific sign location and size, outlines an enforcement process, and establishes civil penalties.

What Is it, and Who Does It Affect?
The bill defines an awareness sign as follows:

Public awareness sign—or a sign created by an establishment that meets the following requirement: is at least 8” x 11” long.

The bill requires massage establishments to display the signs. Massage establishments are defined as:

Massage establishment—any place of business that offers and engages in the practice of massage and bodywork on the premises of the business, or that uses the title or description of services incorporating the words “bodywork, massage, massage therapy, massage practitioner, massagist, masseur, masseuse.” A place of business includes any office, clinic, facility, salon, spa, or other location. The therapist’s residence or an out-call location that is not owned, rented, or leased by a massage therapist or massage establishment is not considered a massage establishment, unless the location is advertised as the therapist’s or establishment’s place of business. The term “massage establishment” does not include any “facility” or “hospital,” such as physician offices, physical therapy facilities, chiropractic offices, or athletic training facilities, whether they employ, contract with, or rent to massage therapists.

Sign Placement
All establishments must display a public awareness sign in a place that is clearly visible to employees and the public. Massage establishments, in particular, must display a public awareness sign that is visible in all staff breakrooms—if the business does not have staff breakrooms, signs must be in a prominent location where employees will see them.

A business may need to display a public awareness sign at more than one location on its premises to ensure its employees and the public can view the signs.

Inspection and Compliance
The Department’s Division of Industrial Affairs, Office of Labor Law Enforcement (Department) may conduct an inspection of an establishment if it receives a complaint that the business may not be complying with signage requirements. If the Department conducts an inspection and confirms compliance failure, the Department will provide the business with public awareness signs, if needed, and written notice of all the following:

  1. The date of Department inspection
  2. The observed noncompliance
  3. The possible civil penalties for noncompliance
  4. A prominent statement that the notice serves as a warning

Civil Penalties
The civil penalties for public awareness signage noncompliance are as follows:

  • If an establishment does not correct the same, or a substantially similar, noncompliance issue stated in the warning notice, the business owner is subject to a civil penalty of not more than $500.
  • On a second or succeeding failure by an establishment to correct the same, or a substantially similar, noncompliance issue stated in the warning notice, the business owner is subject to a civil penalty of not more than $2,500.

Effective date: September 14, 2023

Implementation date: September 14, 2024, to allow for rulemaking and to ensure public awareness signs will be ready for distribution.