Globalization has transformed the way we think about the workplace, creating opportunities that have helped millions while presenting worldwide challenges that require coordinated and creative solutions. Globalization also makes it increasingly likely that US labor and employment lawyers will encounter issues involving the laws of other countries. With the forces of globalization as a backdrop, and international human rights and trade law as possible correctives, this course examines international and comparative workplace law, the cutting edge of labor and employment law practice. The course highlights international labor standards promulgated by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and considers the effects on national regulation of supranational structures like the European Union (EU) and regional trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). A number of workplace trends are considered including increasing income inequality, the decline of labor unions, the problems of migrant workers, the dramatic rise in the number of women in the paid labor force, and efforts to eliminate forced and child labor. Using international standards as an analytical lens, the course also compares workplace law in several countries important to the global economy, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and China. The course concludes by assessing the potential for achieving global labor standards through corporate self-regulation, such as the Codes of Conduct adopted by many American transnational corporations (TNCs), and cutting edge legal efforts to enforce international labor rights in American courts.
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