ALG & Associates LPC | Labour Laws




United States Labour and Employment Laws in a Foreign Country

QUESTION: Do United States Labour and Employment Laws Apply to Employees While Working in a Foreign Country?

The question of which labour laws apply to an employee working for a United States company, but who are stationed in a foreign country, depends on the employment law that the employee is trying to enforce.

In principle, the employee protection laws which will apply to those individuals working in a foreign country are those laws in the host county.

It should be clearly pointed out that many countries have mandatory laws that must be enforced for all individuals who work within the country. The type of mandatory laws in many countries include regulations that deal with hiring, firing, vacation, overtime, days of rest, wages, benefits, discrimination, restrictive covenants and their enforceability, hours and trade secrets.

It should also be noted that the provisions of the Fair Labour Standards Act (FLSA) regarding minimum wage and overtime requirements do not apply to any employee whose services during the work week are performed in a workplace within a foreign country or within territory under the jurisdiction of the United States.

The Family Medical Leave Act also applies only to employees who are employed within the United States or any of its territories or possessions.

A number of Federal anti-discrimination laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) have been amended to explicitly state they apply to U.S. citizens who work for a U.S, or a U.S. controlled company, in a foreign country.

NOTE: The ADA, the ADEA regulations all include a foreign law defense which allows an employer to avoid liability for violating the United States laws upon proof that compliance with the regulations would cause the employer to violate the laws of a foreign country.

If any of the above mentioned laws, which are applicable to workers in a foreign county, are violated the employee may have a cause of action, not only in the United States, but also in the foreign country in which the work was actually performed.