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11 Nw. J. Int'l L. & Bus. 371 (1990-1991)
Strangers in a Strange Land: Foreign Compulsion and the Extraterritorial Application of United States Employment Law

handle is hein.journals/nwjilb11 and id is 381 raw text is: COMMENTS
Strangers in a Strange Land: Foreign
Compulsion and the Extraterritorial
Application of United States
Employment Law
The increasingly interdependent nature of the world economy has
made commonplace the overseas employment of United States citizens
by United States multinational corporations.1 When an American com-
pany 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.2
Historically, principles of territoriality and nationality have con-
strained the ability of a sovereign state to prescribe conduct occurring
outside of its boundaries.3 Under traditional principles of jurisdiction,
1 In 1970 some 680,000 United States citizens worked overseas in private employment (exclud-
ing merchant marines). Social And Economic Statistics Admin., Bureau of the Census, United
States Dept. of Commerce, Americans Living Abroad (1973). Currently, about 2,000 U.S. Compa-
nies operate 21,000 foreign units in 121 countries. Were Civil Rights Meant to Travel? Bus. Week,
Jan. 21, 1991 at 36. As of November 1990 over 40,000 U.S. citizens were employed in Saudi Arabia
alone. Saudi Arabia's 'Guest Workers' Disenfranchised, Discontented, Chicago Trib., Nov. 25, 1990,
§ 1, at 5, col. 3.
2 See EEOC: Policy Statement on the Application of Title VII To American Companies Overseas
and to Foreign Companies, 401 Fair Empl. Prac. Rep. (BNA) 6063 (1988)[hereinafter Policy
3 Jurisdiction to prescribe consists of a sovereign's authority to apply its law, whether by stat-
ute, agency regulation, executive act, or judgment of a court, whether in general or in particular
cases. FTC v. Compagnie de Saint-Gobain-Pont-A-Mousson, 636 F.2d 1300, 1315 (D.C. Cir.
In the past the jurisdiction of a state to make its law applicable in a transnational context was
determined by formal criteria derived from concepts of state sovereignty and power. In princi-

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