The Yale Law Journal

February 2020

Better Together? The Peril and Promise of Aggregate Litigation for Trafficked Workers

Civil ProcedureLabor and Employment Law

abstract. This Note proposes a new litigation strategy for vindicating the rights of trafficked workers. It argues that class actions, an increasingly popular mechanism for holding traffickers liable, are insufficient. Through an original analysis of federal class actions predicated on the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), I show that courts are reluctant to certify classes of traf- ficked workers and that class actions too often fail. As an alternative to class actions, this Note suggests that state attorneys general invoke their common-law parens patriae power to bring suits against traffickers under the TVPA. This strategy would preserve many benefits of the aggregate-litigation model while sidestepping the challenging procedural terrain of the modern class action.

author. Yale Law School, J.D. expected 2020. I am deeply grateful to James E. Tierney, Peter Brann, Terri Gerstein, Jane Flanagan, Burt Johnson, Judge Virginia M. Kendall, Ambassador Luis C.deBaca, and Jordan Dannenberg for their valuable comments and support. Thanks also to Mary Charlotte Carroll and the editors of the Yale Law Journal for reading many drafts and offering terrific suggestions. All errors are my own.