Global Spotlight on Labor Trafficking in Health Care and Corporate Supply Chains
Courts and legislatures both in the United States and abroad continue to prioritize the eradication of labor trafficking in corporate supply chains, including those in the health care industry. For example, in the United States, consumers have sued manufacturers for failing to disclose the presence of forced labor in their supply chains. These claims have been based on consumer protection laws, the Alien Tort Statute, and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. The United States government has also used enforcement power through the use of withhold release orders to prevent the import of goods into the United States that the government believes to have been made with forced labor.
In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has both highlighted and exacerbated labor trafficking issues worldwide, particularly in industries related to pandemic response. This development has had a particular focus on the health care industry.
Outside the United States, numerous countries are taking differing strategies to combat labor trafficking. Some countries are focusing their efforts on effecting change downstream by requiring companies to meet reporting and/or supply chain due diligence obligations, whereas other countries, in contrast, target those who actually recruit and/or provide labor. These countries' efforts reflect an increased global interest and effort in developing greater protections for workers and eliminating exploitative business practices across the globe.
This Jones Day White Paper serves as an update to our prior publications regarding legislation and executive action aimed at curbing forced labor in supply chains, with an additional focus on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. This White Paper sets forth developments in the areas of: (i) litigation within the United States; (ii) the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on labor trafficking; and (iii) international efforts to eradicate labor trafficking worldwide.