The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The Equal Employment Opportunity Responsibilities of Multinational Employers

The globalization of business activity has resulted in employers from around the world assigning increasing numbers of personnel internationally. The following general guidance is intended to help multinational employers determine their obligations under U.S. equal employment opportunity laws (EEO laws).

Operations in the United States or U.S. Territories

Multinational employers that operate in the United States or its territories -- American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands -- are subject to EEO laws to the same extent as U.S. employers, unless the employer is covered by a treaty or other binding international agreement that limits the full applicability of U.S. anti-discrimination laws, such as one that permits the company to prefer its own nationals for certain positions.

Operations Outside the United States and U.S. Territories

Companies Based in the U.S.

Employers that are incorporated or based in the U.S. or are controlled by U.S. companies and that employ U.S. citizens outside the United States or its territories are subject to Title VII, the ADEA, and the ADA with respect to those employees. U.S. EEO laws do not apply to non-U.S. citizens outside the U.S. or its territories.

How to Determine Who is a U.S. Employer

An employer will be considered to be a U.S. employer if it is incorporated or based in the United States or if it has sufficient connections with the United States. This is an individualized factual determination that will be based on the following relevant factors:

How to Determine Whether a Company is "Controlled" By a U.S. Employer

Foreign Laws Defense

U.S. employers are not required to comply with the requirements of Title VII, the ADEA, or the ADA, if adherence to that requirement would violate a law of the country where the workplace is located. For example, an employer would have a "Foreign Laws Defense" for a mandatory retirement policy if the law of the country in which the company is located requires mandatory retirement.

A U.S. employer may not transfer an employee to another country in order to disadvantage the employee because of his/her race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability. For example, an employer may not transfer an older worker to a country with a mandatory retirement age for the purpose of forcing the employee's retirement.

What U.S. EEO Laws Cover

The federal EEO laws enforced by the EEOC are Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Equal Pay Act (EPA). These laws prohibit covered employers from discriminating on the bases of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, and disability. Examples of conduct prohibited include:

Need More Information?

For more detailed information, including a comprehensive discussion of these and other issues, please see:

Training and Outreach

The EEOC engages in widespread training and outreach to educate employees and employers about their rights and responsibilities under the EEO statutes. For information about upcoming programs, please contact an EEOC Outreach Program Coordinator.

This page was last modified on April 28, 2003.

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