International Migrants Day and Operating with Respect for the Rights of Migrant Workers

iStock_000000907516XSmall(2)December 18 is International Migrants Day.  Companies in a wide variety of industry sectors must address the human rights-related risks specific to employing migrant workers. These workers are especially vulnerable to human rights abuses, including poor working conditions, discriminatory treatment, physical abuse, and forced labor.

Current guidance for companies seeking to understand and address risks to migrant workers includes the Dhaka Principles for Migration with Dignity. Launched in 2012 on International Migrants Day, and developed by the Institute for Human Rights and Business, the Dhaka Principles are built around… More

International Bar Association Releases Guidance for Lawyers on the U.N. Guiding Principles

International Bar Association Conference on Law and Corporate Social ResponsibilityThe Business and Human Rights Working Group of the International Bar Association (“IBA”) recently released draft guidance for bar association and business lawyers on implementation of the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (“the U.N. Guiding Principles”).

As stated in a press release by the IBA, the intent of the draft guidance for bar associations is to:

encourage bar associations to improve understanding of the relevance and applicability of business and human rights principles; urge bar… More

Alien Tort Case Development: Ninth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Claims Against Occidental Petroleum and AirScan

Alien Tort GavelOn November 12, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of claims filed pursuant to the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”) against Occidental Petroleum and AirScan. The case, Mujica v. AirScan, involves claims by Colombian plaintiffs alleging that the companies were complicit in a 1998 bombing of a Colombian village by the Colombian Air Force. The Ninth Circuit held that plaintiffs’ claims did not rebut the presumption against extraterritorial application of ATS that has served as a significant obstacle for plaintiffs in ATS cases ever since the More

Alien Tort Case Development: The Second Circuit Assesses the Appropriate Focus of Jurisdictional Inquiries

Alien Tort GavelOn October 23, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision in Mastafa v. Chevron Corp., a case filed against Chevron Corp. and BNP Paribas pursuant to the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”). The court upheld the District Court’s dismissal of the plaintiffs’ complaint. In upholding the dismissal, the court held that the “focus” of the jurisdictional inquiry in ATS cases must be the specific conduct that allegedly violated the law of nations and where that conduct occurred.

The case involves allegations that Chevron and BNP Paribas aided… More

Modern Slavery Bill in the United Kingdom Expected to Include Public Reporting Requirement

thumbnailEarlier this month, the U.K. Home Office announced that a measure requiring public reporting by British companies would be included in the Modern Slavery Bill that is currently being considered by the House of Commons. The Modern Slavery Bill is expected to be enacted before the next general election in May 2015.

Observers expect that the public reporting requirement will be modeled after the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, which requires retailers and manufacturers doing business in the State of California to publicly disclose their efforts, if… More

Alien Tort Case Development: Litigation Against Exxon Mobil Corporation May Proceed

Alien Tort GavelIn late September, the District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that two closely related cases filed against Exxon Mobil Corporation, and several of the company’s subsidiaries, could proceed. Plaintiffs in both cases, Doe I v. Exxon Mobil and Doe VIII v. Exxon Mobil, allege that the company is liable for human rights abuses committed by members of the Indonesian military who had been engaged to provide security for the company’s operations in Indonesia.

Plaintiffs in Doe I v. Exxon Mobil have raised claims under the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”). At an… More

United States to Develop National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct

Global BusinessOn September 24, at a meeting of the Open Government Partnership at the United Nations, President Obama announced that the U.S. Government would develop a national action plan to promote responsible business conduct. The United States had been under considerable pressure from civil society organizations and others to develop such a plan.

Specifically, and as stated in a fact sheet released by the White House:

The United States will develop a National Action Plan to promote and incentivize responsible business conduct, including with respect to transparency… More

Alien Tort Case Developments: Three Recent Decisions

Alien Tort GavelIn July, we posted about two recent decisions by federal appellate courts that sought to define the parameters of the “touch and concern” standard established by the Supreme Court in its 2013 decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum.

Since that earlier post, several other federal courts have issued decisions in cases filed against U.S.-based corporations pursuant to the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”). These latest decisions make clear, as one judge noted in her opinion, that Kiobel “drastically limits the viability of ATS claims based on conduct occurring… More

Coming Soon: New Requirements for Federal Contractors Regarding Human Trafficking

TraffickingIn the coming weeks, the U.S. federal government is expected to release amendments to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) that are intended to strengthen existing prohibitions against human trafficking by federal contractors.

The draft FAR amendments were first released in September 2013. The final amendments, once released, will impact all federal contracts, with heightened requirements for contracts performed outside the United States that exceed $500,000 in value.

The FAR amendments are being enacted in order to implement Executive Order 13627 (“Strengthening Protections Against Trafficking in Persons… More

President Obama Issues New Executive Order on Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces

Workplace SafetyOn July 31, President Obama issued an Executive Order requiring federal contractors to disclose past labor violations. The order applies to new contracts for goods and services, including construction, valued at more than $500,000.

Contractors subject to the new order must disclose any “administrative merits determination, arbitral award or decision, or civil judgment, as defined in guidance issued by the Department of Labor” arising from the violation of specified federal and state labor laws, including, but not limited to, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the National Labor Relations Act,… More