Pursuing International Labour Rights in U.S. Courts: New Uses for Old Tools

Posted: 31 Aug 2010

See all articles by Lance Compa

Lance Compa

Cornell University - School of Industrial and Labor Relations

Date Written: March 15, 2002

Abstract

Filing lawsuits in U.S. federal and state courts for workers’ rights violations suffered by workers employed by American corporations abroad is one of several strategies for promoting labour rights. Other strategies include use of labour rights mechanisms in GSP laws, in regional trade agreements like NAFTA and Mercosur, in corporate codes of conduct, in the ILO and other venues. To succeed, such suits must first overcome the strong presumption against extraterritorial effect of U.S. law. Other jurisdictional hurdles like “inconvenient forum” also require caution in bringing suits. However, several cases using common law tort and contract theories as well as international human rights law have recovered substantial actual and punitive damages for workers of U.S. multinational companies in several developing countries. With the right strategic choices, labour rights litigation can be an effective means of advancing workers’ rights in the global economy.

JEL Classification: K31

Suggested Citation

Compa, Lance, Pursuing International Labour Rights in U.S. Courts: New Uses for Old Tools (March 15, 2002). Relations Industrielles/Industrial Relations, Vol. 57, No. 1, 2002, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1669322

Lance Compa (Contact Author)

Cornell University - School of Industrial and Labor Relations ( email )

293 Ives Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-3901
United States
607-255-7314 (Phone)

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