The Australian Government has launched an online register that publishes companies’ statements on their compliance with the country’s Federal Modern Slavery Act of 2018. The website, which is searchable and available to the public, marks the first government-run website tracking companies’ compliance with efforts to eradicate modern slavery. Unlike comparable legislation passed recently in other jurisdictions, including the U.K. Modern Slavery Act of 2015, Australia’s Act makes reporting mandatory within six months of a company’s fiscal year-end.… More
Category Archives: Trafficking
As the United States Targets China’s Human Rights Abuses, Companies Should Prepare for Stricter Due Diligence on Forced Labor
As the United States seeks to take more forceful action punishing China for its escalating human rights abuses against Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang autonomous region and the citizens of Hong Kong, international businesses whose supply chains intersect with China should be prepared for new legislation and regulatory enforcement that could result in penalties. Companies will need to take additional steps to ensure their due diligence processes account for potential human rights risks associated with forced labor in Xinjiang and elsewhere in the country.… More
Pioneering Dutch Law Raises Global Standards for Eliminating Child Labor in Supply Chains – Understanding the Dimensions of Compliance
The Dutch Senate recently adopted the Child Labour Due Diligence Act, a new measure with far reaching implications for the sourcing, manufacturing, and consumption of products that contain inputs from the bodies of child laborers.
The new law is the product of protracted negotiations that have taken place over several years in the Dutch Parliament. The Dutch House of Representatives approved the legislation in February 2017 with 82 of the chamber’s 150 Members of Parliament in favor. … More
The 2018 Corporate Human Rights Benchmark: Some Successes but Ongoing Challenges in Company Efforts to Advance Human Rights
On November 12, The Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) released the results of its 2018 Corporate Human Rights Benchmark. The 2018 Corporate Human Rights Benchmark assesses over 100 of the largest publicly traded multinational companies in the world on a set of key human rights indicators, including governance policies, remedies and grievance mechanisms, responding to serious allegations, due diligence, and transparency.
Established in 2013,… More
On September 26, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations approved the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 2200). The bill would reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. In July 2017, the House passed its version of H.R. 2200.
Of potential consequence for companies, Section 133 of H.R. 2200 would enhance the List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor that is issued and updated periodically by the Department of Labor’s International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB). … More
This week’s post includes: developments with respect to the proposed Australian Modern Slavery Act; the dismissal of another climate change-based lawsuit; and an initial draft of the proposed Business and Human Rights Treaty.
- On June 28, the proposed Modern Slavery Bill was introduced to the Australian Parliament. …
This week’s post includes: new insights into the proposed Australia Modern Slavery Act; a new Withhold Release Order prohibiting the import of products produced with Turkmenistan cotton; and the launch of the Investor Alliance for Human Rights.
In his testimony before Congress last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg observed that, on issues ranging from fake news to hate speech, the company “didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake.”
Looking ahead, it remains to be seen what a “broad enough view” means for companies that both host online content. When the content that you and I see on various websites is determined by a complex ecosystem of content writers,… More
This week’s post includes: two new reports looking at corporate compliance with the U.K. Modern Slavery Act and best practices with respect to efforts to address the risks of forced labor; and the release of a “Frequently Asked Questions” document by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security regarding the presumption that goods made by North Korean workers are made with forced labor.… More
This week’s post includes a number of new guidance documents and tools, including materials on: the elimination of recruitment fees; assurance efforts with regard to human rights reporting and performance; and the development of social compliance systems.
This week’s post includes: a new report from the U.N. Working Group on Business and Human Rights; a report evaluating corporate efforts to assess forced labor risks in sugarcane supply chains; and a revised report reviewing national action plans on business and human rights as issued by 18 countries.… More
This week’s post includes: the U.S. Government’s amicus brief in Jesner v. Arab Bank; a Declaration from the Leaders of the G20; and a commitment to renew the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.
- On June 27, the U.S.…
This week’s post includes: a new report on human rights litigation in U.S. federal courts; new guidelines on the E.U. directive on non-financial reporting; and the release of the U.S. State Department’s 2017 Trafficking in Persons report.
- On June 8, U.S. Customs and Border Protection published a final rule in the Federal Register amending existing customs regulations in order to to reflect the elimination of the consumptive demand exception,…
This week’s post includes: a new report on the state of corporate human rights reporting; the passage of a shareholder resolution on climate change at Occidental Petroleum; and the latest Ministerial Declaration from the Labour and Employment Ministers of the G20.
- On May 10,…
Litigation Update: Plaintiffs Survive Motion to Dismiss in Case Involving Claims of Forced Labor in Corporate Supply Chains
Today, January 11, is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, and therefore a good time to revisit some recent litigation developments. On November 9, a date on which most of the American media was focused on the Presidential election results, there were significant developments in the Keo Ratha v. Phattana Seafood Co. litigation, a case involving allegations of human trafficking in corporate supply chains. The District Court for the Central District of California issued an order that will allow the case to go forward,… More
This week’s post includes: the first annual report from the U.K. Anti-Slavery Commissioner; a new benchmarking report from Know the Chain focused on food and beverage companies; and the results of a survey on corporate human rights due diligence efforts.
- On October 12,…
This week’s post includes: an important decision by the Supreme Court of British Columbia with regard to a case raising forced labor concerns; the release of the U.S. Department of Labor’s most recent List of Goods Produced by Child Labor and Forced Labor;… More
This week’s post includes: an announcement by the International Criminal Court regarding the potential for the prosecution of crimes based on environmental harm and land grabs; the lifting of sanctions on Burma and the end of the Burma Reporting Requirements on Responsible Investment; and new attention to the operational and reputational risks associated with global shipping.… More
This week’s post includes: litigation developments in cases that address the “Social Cost of Carbon,” the liability of interactive media service providers, and human trafficking in corporate supply chains; and a new global ranking of countries according to the relative risk of human trafficking and forced labor.… More
This week’s post includes: a new lawsuit aimed at combating human trafficking in corporate supply chains; the release of the 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report by the U.S. State Department; and a change in the Reporting Requirements on Responsible Investment in Burma.
- On July 1,…
This week’s post includes: a new guide for business lawyers from the International Bar Association that seeks to promote implementation of the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; the public release of Know the Chain’s first report benchmarking technology companies on efforts to address forced labor in their supply chains;… More
This week’s post includes: new guidance for boards of directors on business and human rights; the launch of the Responsible Sourcing Tool; the release of the 2016 Global Slavery Index; and a new code of conduct in Europe by which American Internet companies have committed to taking actions to combat illegal hate speech.… More
President Obama signed the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 into law in February of this year. In doing so, he eliminated the “consumptive demand exception,” a long-standing loophole in the general prohibition against the importation of goods made with forced labor.
U.S. law has long prohibited the import of “goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in any foreign country by convict labor or/and forced labor.” The consumptive demand exception allowed companies to import goods produced with forced labor if the “consumptive demand” for those goods in the United States exceeded the capacity of domestic production.… More
This week’s post includes: new private and public initiatives on recruitment fees, including a proposal to further amend the U.S. Government’s Federal Acquisition Regulation to provide a clear definition of such fees; the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by victims of the Rana Plaza factory collapse;… More
This week’s post includes: the first reports published pursuant to the requirements of the U.K. Modern Slavery Act; an overview of social and environmental shareholder proposals filed for the 2016 proxy season; and a new effort to benchmark technology companies on their policies and practices with regard to forced labor in their supply chains.… More
On February 11, the U.S. Senate passed the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act and President Obama is expected to sign the legislation this week. A key provision in the Act eliminates the “consumptive demand exception,” a long-standing loophole in the prohibition against the importation into the United States of goods made with forced labor.
Pursuant to the consumptive demand exception, companies have been able to import goods produced with forced labor if the “consumptive demand”… More
Companies are increasingly being required to disclose how they assess and respond to the risks of human trafficking in their product supply chains. Statutes like the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act and the U.K. Modern Slavery Act require such disclosures. In addition, certain U.S. federal contractors are now required to develop detailed compliance plans to address the risks of trafficking associated with the good and services they provide to the U.S.… More
This week’s post includes: recent developments with regard to a major Alien Tort Statute case; the announcement of a pilot effort to benchmark corporate human rights performance; and a major new report demonstrating the potential links between anti-corruption compliance programs and effort to eradicate labor trafficking in corporate supply chains.… More
A District Court judge in California has dismissed a complaint against Nestlé USA Inc. and Nestlé Purina Petcare Co. (together “Nestlé”) which argued that the company was obligated to inform consumers that seafood in its catfood products may have been sourced from forced labor. Plaintiffs alleged violations of the California Unfair Competition Law, the Legal Remedies Act, and the California False Advertising Law.
Specifically, plaintiffs stated that they would not have purchased the company’s products if they had been informed that the seafood in those products was linked to forced labor,… More
The transparency provisions of the U.K. Modern Slavery Act went into effect on October 29. At the same time, the U.K. Government has released guidance for companies seeking to comply with the Act.
As previously discussed, the transparency provisions of the Act are applicable to companies that do any part of their business in the United Kingdom if they have annual gross worldwide revenues of £36 million (approximately $56 million) or more each year.… More
This week’s post includes notice of several new lawsuits regarding human rights concerns in corporate supply chains as well as coverage of the European Court of Justice’s recent decision to strike down the 15-year old “Safe Harbor” agreement allowing companies to self-certify that their data transfers between the United States and Europe are in compliance with E.U.… More
There continue to be regular developments in the business and human rights field that warrant attention from both companies and their stakeholders. New legislation and regulation, shifting policy positions, and developments in ongoing litigation…there is always a lot to discuss.
To conclude this week, we have put together a rundown of five recent developments that we’ve been watching closely:
- On September 2,…
Companies that do business in the United Kingdom should assess their exposure to the U.K. Modern Slavery Act, which goes into effect this October. The transparency provisions of the Act are applicable to companies that do any part of their business in the United Kingdom if they have annual gross worldwide revenues of £36 million (approximately $56 million) or more each year.
The transparency provisions are applicable to all commercial organizations, … More
The State of California has recently stepped up enforcement of the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, which went into effect on January 1, 2012. The California Department of Justice has also issued new guidance on compliance with the legislation.
In April 2015, the Department of Justice sent out letters to certain retailers and manufacturers regarding compliance with the transparency legislation. The letters requested the companies to provide,… More
On January 29, the U.S. Government released a final rule establishing new anti-human trafficking requirements for U.S. government contractors. The rule amends the Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) and seeks to strengthen the FAR’s existing prohibitions and requirements related to trafficking in persons.
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.
Earlier 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.
In 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.… More
Companies increasingly face expectations that they will “know and show” that they are taking appropriate steps to manage the human rights impacts associated with their business activities. New transparency requirements on issues ranging from conflict minerals to investments in Burma reflect this trend.
With respect to human trafficking, existing statutes such as the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act and proposed statutes such as the Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act require companies to report on their efforts to conduct due diligence on their supply chains in order to identify the risks of human trafficking.… More
On June 11, Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced H.R. 4842, the Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act of 2014. The bill, if passed, would require companies to file annual reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) disclosing their efforts to identify and address specific human rights risks in their supply chains.
The proposed federal legislation, co-sponsored by Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ),… More
Over the past week, significant attention has been paid to the risks of sex trafficking associated with the Super Bowl. Law enforcement resources were dedicated to identifying traffickers and ensuring that services are available for victims, and companies in both the airline and hotel industries took action to ensure that their facilities were not used to facilitate trafficking activities.
All of these actions are laudable,… More
Agricultural sector companies, and companies with large agricultural supply chains, face new scrutiny from investors and other stakeholders concerning human rights-related risks in their corporate supply chains. Key issues for this sector include the risks of human trafficking and forced labor and the potential for suppliers to be complicit in land grabs which displace vulnerable populations.
In early December, a group of faith-based and socially responsible investors announced that they would launch a campaign in January 2014 urging fifteen companies in the food-agricultural and hospitality sectors to take steps to address risks of human rights abuses in their corporate supply chains.… More
In November, Gwen Jaramillo and I published a piece in Practical Law that looked at trends relevant to CSR. The piece covered a range of topics, including new legislative and regulatory requirements, the role of the board of directors, and key concerns for corporate general counsel.
In noting the key role of the board in overseeing a company’s approach to CSR,… More
As memories of New Year’s Eve fade, and another Inauguration Day winds down in Washington, D.C., it’s time to look ahead and identify key events and emerging trends that we think will help shape the business and human rights agenda in 2013.
Here are five developments that we’ll be watching closely:
Further integration of human rights considerations into business management systems. Eighteen months after the release of the U.N.… More
In a landmark speech to the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2012, President Barack Obama declared that the “fight against human trafficking is one of the great human rights causes of our time” and that “our global economy companies have a responsibility to make sure that their supply chains, stretching into the far corners of the globe, are free of forced labor.”
The President’s speech is reflective of the fact that human trafficking and forced labor have become key priorities for those seeking to hold companies accountable for the human rights impacts of their operations.… More
A coalition of 80 institutional investors sent a letter to Congress last week in support of the Business Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act (HR 2759). As discussed previously, the proposed legislation would require companies to disclose efforts to identify and address the risks of human trafficking, forced labor, slavery, and the worst forms of child labor in their supply chains.
In less than two months, on January 1, 2012, the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act will go into effect. Companies impacted by the legislation will be required to disclose their efforts, if any, to ensure that their direct supply chains are free from slavery and human trafficking.
As discussed in previous posts, the legislation applies to retail sellers and manufacturers doing business in California that have annual worldwide gross receipts exceeding one hundred million dollars.… More
Human trafficking is a problem that is often hidden from sight, especially in the United States. The statistics on human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation are unsettling. Nearly 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. The U.S. Department of State’s 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report estimated that 2,000,000 children are exploited in the global commercial sex trade. ECPAT International,… More
H.R. 2759: New Federal Bill Would Require Companies to Disclose Efforts to Address Human Rights Risks in their Supply Chains
On August 1, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced H.R. 2759, the Business Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act (.pdf), a bill modeled after the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act. The bill would require companies to disclose efforts to identify and address the risks of human trafficking, forced labor, slavery, and the worst forms of child labor in their supply chains.
Retailers and manufacturers seeking to evaluate the potential applicability of The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act to their businesses should make certain that they are aware of recent changes in the California Revenue and Tax Code. Specifically, Section 23101 of the Revenue and Tax Code was amended in a way that creates a more expansive definition of "doing business" in the state for taxable years beginning on or after January 1,… More
This year’s Super Bowl, held on February 6, provided advocates with an opportunity to shine a spotlight on one of the darkest sides of major sporting events: the trafficking of sex workers. At an anti-trafficking event held in January, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott stated that “the Super Bowl is one of the biggest human trafficking events in the United States.”
When large numbers of people attend events like the Super Bowl,… More
Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. In less than one year, on January 1, 2012, The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act will go into effect. As discussed in previous posts, many large retailers and manufacturers doing business in California will be required to disclose their efforts, if any, to ensure that their product supply chains are free from slavery and human trafficking.… More
Looking back at 2010, there have been a number of significant legal developments in the field of corporate social responsibility. New federal and state statutes have imposed due diligence requirements on companies with the specific intent of addressing human rights concerns, ranging from forced labor to the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Courts continue to grapple with the potential scope of corporate liability under the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”). … More
Raise the topic of due diligence in a room of corporate lawyers and you might expect the conversation to turn to a discussion of mergers and acquisitions or environmental site assessments. Increasingly, however, corporate counsel are being asked to help clients develop due diligence strategies and systems to identify the human rights concerns that may be associated with their existing, or potential, operations.
Corporate stakeholders, including both legislators and shareholders,… More
The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act: New Legislation Requires Disclosures on Corporate Efforts to Eliminate Slavery and Human Trafficking
On September 30, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010 into law. The legislation will require companies to disclose their efforts to ensure that their supply chains are free from slavery and human trafficking.
The legislation will go into effect on January 1, 2012 and applies to retail sellers and manufacturers doing business in California that have annual gross receipts exceeding one hundred million dollars.… More