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There is a growing consensus that companies must account for the impact of their operations on local, national and international human rights. This has been driven by the United Nations’ 2011 adoption of the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP), as well as developments in human rights litigation under the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) and other emerging theories of liability.
Several national and international developments are affecting companies in the area of human rights. Following the adoption of the UNGP, the U.N. has been working to make corporate entities more financially accountable to victims. The United States and other countries have prepared, or are preparing, national action plans to ensure broader alignment with the UNGP, including ensuring that domestic policies effectively prohibit human rights abuses that involve corporate entities. Recent U.S. trade and investment policy has also incorporated human rights and international labor provisions.
Because respect for human rights has become a standard of conduct endorsed not only by the U.N. Human Rights Council but also governments, business associations and nongovernment organizations, infringement of these rights may lead to legal liability. Littler helps clients assess the local, national and international human rights impacts of their operations and develop strategies and policies to stay ahead of the evolving regulatory and legislative landscape.
Littler is a recognized authority in this area, maintaining strong ties with the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) and other key organizations. Shareholder John Kloosterman is the U.S. employer delegate to the International Labour Organization (ILO) and sits on the U.S. Tripartite Advisory Panel on International Labor Standards. Our lawyers also possess deep knowledge of the ATCA and have repeatedly represented business interests before the U.N. on these issues.
Given the heightened visibility of human rights in the global workplace, Littler is committed to an affirmative role in this specialized space. Our attorneys can skillfully maneuver corporate executives through these expanding mandates, whether through supply chain management, human rights policies and due diligence programs, or navigating the emerging theories of liability in this area to achieve compliance and to avoid reputational harm.