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Hard Rock builds on human trafficking prevention efforts

A group with the Broward Human Trafficking Coalition staffed a table at a Jan. 21 town hall event at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale. (Via Facebook)

Hard Rock International has expanded its efforts to combat and prevent human trafficking by entering into partnerships intended to support victims, survivors and at-risk youth. The company made the announcement in a Jan. 10 news release.

The release said Hard Rock has already trained 27,000 hotel and casino employees on human trafficking at its locations across the globe.

“Human trafficking, which includes commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor, is a complex challenge for the entire global hospitality industry because it intersects [with] a range of organized criminal activities,” Hard Rock said in the release.

Hard Rock said it has teamed up with Covenant House New York – a leading provider of services for runaway and homeless youth in New York City – to help employ youth who are considered vulnerable and assist them in avoiding or escaping human trafficking. The release said youth of color; those in the LGBTQ+ community and those with a background of poverty and abuse are particularly susceptible.

“Vulnerable and exploited youth need stable employment to transition their lives from the street to a better future,” Julie Farer, Covenant House New York’s executive director, said in the release. “This program seeks to not only offer jobs at Hard Rock, but to help these youth build careers by offering the experience, training and knowledge to build long-term futures in the global hospitality industry.”

Participants in the program would be employed at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square and at the nearby Hard Rock Hotel New York.

QR code pilot program

Hard Rock is also implementing a pilot QR code sticker program for both Hard Rock and Seminole Gaming properties. A QR code consists of an array of black and white squares that are scanned by a smartphone. Hard Rock’s QR code sticker would direct the scanner to information on trafficking and to support for those who may need it. The sticker would be placed in bathrooms, elevator waiting areas, transportation waiting areas and parking lots.

Hard Rock said the idea was created by trafficking survivors and is part of the Clewiston, Florida-based nonprofit “Twentyfour-Seven.”

“Victims who are being trafficked are constantly fed false information by their traffickers,” Tsvetelina Thompson, managing director of Twentyfour-Seven, said in the release. “The … QR code breaks the cycle by providing relevant and accurate information to victims so they may obtain help.

The pilot program will test the stickers at properties in Hollywood (Florida), New York City, Cincinnati (Ohio) and Madrid, Spain.

Town hall

Hard Rock was also a lead sponsor for a town hall organized by the Broward (County) Human Trafficking Coalition on Jan. 21 in Fort Lauderdale. The town hall featured speakers from Congress, the Florida Senate, victim advocacy groups, the Broward County State Attorneys Office and Paul Pellizzari, vice president of global social responsibility for Hard Rock International. Hard Rock bused in dozens of its South Florida casino employees to the event, which was held to call attention to human trafficking in the community.

Pellizzari reiterated that Hard Rock trains its employees to be able to flag suspected trafficking victims. He said companies should speak frankly about the problem, even if it’s an uncomfortable topic.

“[To] acknowledge that it affects our business[es] and find a way to talk about it both internally and externally,” he said.

Continuing initiatives

The new activity comes on the heels of other anti-human trafficking work that Hard Rock has been involved in.

In January 2022, Hard Rock launched the “Social Identity Quest” education program designed to help teens understand risks of being lured into trafficking through social media channels. Hard Rock developed content with experts at ECPAT-USA and EduNetwork Partners.

ECPAT-USA said by June 2022, the program had reached about 1.2 million high school students across the U.S. Hard Rock and ECPAT-USA are adapting the program for Native American communities and Indigenous populations as well – groups that disproportionately suffer high rates of trafficking.

In May 2022 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, Seminole Tribe leaders, Hard Rock executives and Broward County officials signed ECPAT-USA’s tourism child-protection code of conduct – a voluntary set of business principles to help prevent human trafficking. ECPAT-USA is a leading U.S. anti-child trafficking organization.

The code offers a framework for companies to establish policies and protocols and to train and educate employees on how to identify a human trafficker or a victim of human trafficking while going about their workday.

The Seminole Tribe is the parent entity of Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming. More is at To access the “Social Identity Quest” program, go to More information about ECPAT-USA can be found at To read about the nonprofit Twentyfour-Seven, go to The Broward Human Trafficking Coalition is at

Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at