Employment Loss

Among the potential consequences of buying sex in the United States is the loss of employment. In more than 490 U.S. cities and counties, people employed in a wide range of economic sectors and job types have resigned or been fired in response to arrests or allegations of paying for sex.  Examples include teachers, firefighters, doctors, police officers, coaches, elected officials, and business owners who had been arrested and charged with soliciting prostitution or with the paid sexual abuse of minors. In most cases, the loss of employment occurs when people are in positions of trust, and criminal offenses of any kind violate codes of conduct and may be grounds for dismissal. Often, the nature of the job makes it untenable to remain in positions after violations of prostitution of sex trafficking laws have been publicized. For example, in May, 2012, the pastor of an Upper Township, NJ[1] church was arrested and charged with loitered to engage a prostituted person, and announced his resignation days after parents at the church’s preschool demanded he step down. In April, 2021, the mayor of Severance, CO[2] was arrested and faced a felony charge for allegedly patronizing a sex trafficked child, and resigned the day after the alleged offense occurred. In September, 2021, a Jersey City, NJ[3] police officer was arrested after he had admittedly arranged to buy access to sexually assault an eight year old girls and a 19 year old woman, for $200.  The officer was suspended from the police department immediately following his arrest, and later was fired and agreed to serve eight years in prison as part of a plea agreement.

While most terminations and resignations occur after an arrest has become known to employers (and often to the public), there have been instances where sex buyers who had not been arrested have been forced out of their jobs.  For example, in July, 2015, the Interim Assistant Superintendent of Finance of the Poughkeepsie, NY school district reached a settlement agreement and was allowed to resign after allegations surfaced that he asked a prostituted woman to “service him” on school district grounds.

Tracking the loss of employment as a consequence of (and deterrent to) buying sex is a recent development at Demand Forum. In the first year of conducting routine internet searches, Demand Forum staff learned of hundreds of U.S. cities and counties in which an employer has either fired or accepted the resignation of an employee in response to learning that they had purchased sex. The number of communities in which sex buyers have ever lost employment as a consequence is certainly much greater than the 485+ that we have recorded so far. The webpage for this tactic is an interim product, providing a preliminary report on employment loss in response to soliciting prostitution or purchasing access to abuse sex trafficked persons. Demand Forum will be updated periodically to reflect recent findings.

To access information about specific cases and the U.S. cities and counties in which they occurred, you may open the “Browse Locations” window, and then select “Employment Loss” from the “Tactics” list. Similarly, the U.S. locations in which employees have lost their jobs due to buying sex may be mapped on Demand Forum by choosing “Employment Loss” from the list.  For more details about this tactic and examples of its implementation, please see our Summary Document (March, 2023).

One theme that is evident from a review of the first 485+ cases we have identified is the wide range of employers that have terminated or accepted the resignations of those alleged to have bought sex, and the range of job categories and roles that the sex buyers had held. The list of examples below provides an overview of types of employers that have terminated staff in response to their violating prostitution and/or trafficking laws (as well as organizational rules and codes of conduct) by purchasing sex. The links lead to each community’s Demand Forum web page, and each contains a description of the nature of the prostitution or trafficking case, the employers involved, whether the person was fired or resigned from their position, and links to source documentation for each case.

Types of Employment Lost Due to Arrest or Allegations of Buying Sex:

Another theme is that the termination of employment for purchasing sex often appears to be determined on an ad hoc basis, without reference to policies or guidelines that specifically prohibit purchasing sex. Instead, the terminations appear to be based on generic codes of conduct that allow employees to be fired if they commit any crime or engage in “conduct unbecoming” for their position, or that is considered detrimental to their business, agency, or non-governmental organization (NGO). However, NCOSE staff are aware of the existence of policies and codes that specifically prohibit the purchase of sex. For example, the organization Business Ending Sex Trafficking (BEST) has created sample language for organizational policies explicitly prohibiting sex buying while employees are conducting company or organizational business, or while using company resources. A similar policy has been adopted by the Amazon corporation. The government of King County, WA had produced a Code of Ethics (KCC 3.04) in which the behaviors covered under the prohibition of purchasing sex are expanded to include patronizing websites that facilitate commercial sexual exploitation. In April, 2015, Attorney General Holder issued a memo to all U.S. Department of Justice employees stating that buying sex could be grounds for suspension or termination. Article 134 of the U.S. Military Code of Conduct contains article 134 on “Pandering and Prostitution,” which explicitly prohibits “patronizing a prostitute.” NCOSE staff will continue to investigate the presence and content of policies banning the purchase of sex, and will periodically update this page.



[1] https://pressofatlanticcity.com/news/breaking/marmora-pastor-resigns-after-prostitution-arrest-in-millville/article_4bbdb2b2-9870-11e1-b13c-001a4bcf887a.html

[2]   https://newcountry991.com/former-severance-mayor-faces-felony-charge-allegedly-solicited-child-prostitute/

[3]   https://newjerseyglobe.com/fr/jersey-city-cop-pleads-guilty-to-seeking-sex-with-minors/