The Next Great Trans-Atlantic Voyage: European Laws Protecting Human Resources Data Arrive on America's Shores

Globalization! The much-ballyhooed war cry of American business during the past decade could soon become a double-edged sword for United States businesses with employees in the European Union (the "EU"). The EU's fifteen Member States have slowly commenced enforcement of, or will soon begin to enforce, unprecedented privacybased restrictions on the "export" to the United States of "personal data" concerning EU residents. These new barriers, raised in consequence of the EU’s Data Protection Directive (the "EU Directive"), affect far more than the well-publicized transfers of customer information generated by businesses engaging in e-commerce. Virtually every transfer of human resources data from operations, affiliates, or subsidiaries in the EU to United States headquarters or business units—even a transfer of basic personnel information such as an employee’s name, work address, and work telephone number—is subject to these restrictions and triggers broad obligations.

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Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.