Strangers in a Strange Land: Foreign Compulsion and the Extraterritorial Application of United States Employment Law

Warner, Michael A. Jr. | January 1, 1990

The increasingly interdependent nature of the world economy has made commonplace the overseas employment of United States citizens by United States multinational corporations. When an American company employs a United States citizen in a foreign country questions arise as to what extent the United States may regulate employment activity taking place outside of United States territorial boundaries. Historically, principles of territoriality and nationality have constrained the ability of a sovereign state to prescribe conduct occurring outside of its boundaries. Under traditional principles of jurisdiction, employee relations fell predominantly under the control of the local authorities where the person or persons in question were employed. Jurisdictional principles, however, have come to reflect the increasing complexity of international business relations. Today, principles of reasonableness and fairness supplement rigid concepts of territoriality.