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The Global Repercussions of Local Employment Risks

While campaigning for President in 1932, Franklin Roosevelt promised a crowd in Pittsburgh that he’d balance the federal budget while cutting “government operations” by 25 per cent. When he returned to Pittsburgh during his 1936 campaign, Roosevelt asked his staff how to answer questions about that unfulfilled promise and was told “deny you were ever in Pittsburgh.”

So much has changed since then: what is said and done is now instantly visible. This lesson came earlier to politicians, it is now unavoidable for business entities. There is no option to deny that you were there.

Let’s look at some consequences of this global visibility:

  • El Super, a small California-based grocery chain with approximately 600 unionized workers, failed to resolve a routine labor dispute at one store with the union representing those employees. As a result of this dispute involving just one store, El Super’s Mexican parent company, Chedraui Commercial Group, found itself subject to double barrel complaints filed by US and Mexican labor unions under the North American Free Trade Agreement labor agreement and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development guidelines.
  • Vedanta found itself subject to a lawsuit by individuals living more than 5,000 miles away when an appellate court in the United Kingdom held that farmers from a Zambian village could bring a claim against Vedanta and its Zambian subsidiary (Lungowe and Ors. v Vedanta Resources PLC and Konkola Copper Mines PLC [November 2017] EWCA Civ 1528). The court’s decision expanded the potential “duty of care” that parent companies have under UK law to employees of their subsidiaries, to include even non-employees who might be affected by its subsidiaries’ operation.

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UK Alert: New Obligation to Publish Annual Statement on Forced Labour and Human Trafficking

A new obligation has been introduced requiring large commercial organisations operating in the United Kingdom to publish a “slavery and human trafficking statement” at the end of each financial year.

The requirement extends to all commercial organisations in any part of a group structure (wherever incorporated, and whether a company or a partnership) that carry on a business, or part of a business, supplying goods or services in any sector in the United Kingdom and have annual turnover of at least £36 million. This includes the turnover of any subsidiary undertakings, regardless of where those subsidiaries are based or operate.

Read the full UK Employment Alert.




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