In 1991, the Supreme Court decided, in the companion cases of EEOC v. Arabian American Oil Co. and Boureslan v. Arabian American Oil Co., that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal statute which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin, did not apply extraterritorially to regulate the employment practices of United States employers that discriminate against United States citizens abroad.
However, as the The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission notes in this Enforcement Guidance memorandum, Congress subsequently amended both Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1993 to permit American citizens employed outside of the United States by an American employer or a foreign corporation controlled by an American employer to pursue legal claims. Note, however, that the 1993 amendment provides a defense for violations of Title VII or the ADA if compliance with those statutes, "with respect to an employee in a workplace in a foreign country," would "cause" a covered entity to "violate the law of the foreign country in which such workplace is located."
This article was originally published on Eric B. Meyer's blog, The Employer Handbook.
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