We have written over the past two years about a growing wave of significant lawsuits in Canada against corporations for alleged international labour and human rights violations in their overseas operations or supply chains. As we have reported, Canada’s judiciary is demonstrating a willingness to expand their jurisdictional reach to permit such claims to proceed. Canadian judges are keeping an open mind as to whether a novel duty of care exists between multinational companies and the upstream foreign supply chain workers or the local residents affected by their operations. Continue Reading Door Still Open? Canada As Safe Harbour For Multinational Human Rights Litigation
A lawsuit brought by several Guatemalans for alleged damages suffered during a 2013 protest at the Escobal silver mine in San Rafael Las Flores has cleared a final hurdle and will now proceed to trial in British Columbia. Continue Reading BC Trial on Alleged Human Rights Violations by Canadian Mining Company in Guatemala Can Proceed
Baker McKenzie is proud to have sponsored the Washington DC premiere of the film “I am Jane Doe” on February 7, 2017. The film is a highly anticipated documentary chronicling an ongoing battle against the trafficking of minors. The Washington premiere was part the McCain Institute’s 2nd Annual Human Trafficking Symposium. Baker McKenzie’s Peter MacKay welcomed the audience followed by Cindy McCain, who provided opening remarks. There was a post-film panel discussion with US Senators Heidi Heitkamp, John McCain, Claire McCaskill and Rob Portman, and the film’s director, Mary Mazzio, with broadcast journalist Perri Peltz acting as moderator. The Canadian premiere of the film is planned for Toronto in March.
For more information about the film, please follow this link.
To ring in the New Year, we highlight the ten most significant developments in Canadian labour and employment law in 2016: Continue Reading Top 10 Canadian Labour & Employment Law Developments of 2016
On October 6, 2016, the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled that a lawsuit by Eritrean miners, who allege they were forced to work in a mine owned by Nevsun Resources Ltd, a Canadian mining company, can proceed to trial. Vancouver-based Nevsun had argued that the case should be dismissed and that any suit should be properly heard in Eritrea. Justice Abrioux disagreed, stating that “there is sufficient cogent evidence from which I can conclude that there is a real risk that the plaintiffs could not be provided with justice in Eritrea,” thereby paving the way for an unprecedented trial in a Canadian court. Justice Abrioux stated that “claims of crimes against humanity, slavery, forced labour and torture can go forward against Nevsun.” Continue Reading BC Case Against Canadian Mining Company for Overseas Human Rights Violations to Proceed to Trial
Hot off the press. A Report released late last week by World Vision Canada concludes that Canadian consumers are unwittingly buying goods made by child and forced labourers deep in the supply chains of Canadian companies. According to the Report, Canadian businesses regularly import goods from countries with high-rates of child and forced labour, particularly in the following sectors: clothing, retail, food, and electronics.
We recently discussed the rising number of claims against Canadian companies for alleged human rights violations in their overseas operations or supply chains. In that article we described the ongoing class action lawsuit against Loblaws and Joe Fresh launched by Bangladeshi garment workers in response to the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Click here for a link to the article.
We also commented on a general increase in litigation against Canadian multinational corporations, including the current case against Toronto-based, Hudbay Minerals Inc., which was brought by a group of indigenous Guatemalan Mayans for human rights violations related to a mining venture.
The reputational risks associated with these cases are serious, particularly in the age of online media and investor activism. On April 3, 2016, The New York Times published a front-page article on the Hudbay Minerals Inc. case entitled, ‘Outcry Echoes Up to Canada’. Continue Reading Global Human Rights Compliance & Litigation Update: Hudbay Minerals Inc. Lawsuit Receives International Media Coverage
The Thomson Reuters Foundation has announced the upcoming launch of the Stop Slavery Award. The purpose of this award is to honour and recognize businesses that have excelled in their efforts to eradicate forced labour from their supply chains.
In today’s rapidly changing world of workplace compliance, global organizations must not only comply with the laws of their headquarters but also the laws of the countries where their workforces and even their suppliers operate. Many seemingly compliant organizations face unseen global workplace and supply chain compliance risks, causing great concern among corporate leaders. In addition to potential harm to workers, failing to manage global workplace risks can have a significant, long-lasting impact on business strategies, legal risk profile and brand reputations. How can you help “save the day” for your company?
Loblaws, Joe Fresh, Nevsun Resources, Hudbay Minerals, and Tahoe Resources. What do these Canadian companies have in common? They have been targeted in significant lawsuits in Canadian courts for alleged labour and/or human rights violations in their overseas operations or supply chains.
Canadian multinational corporations must take note that our courts are revealing a new willingness to expand their jurisdictional reach in light of modern commercial realities and perceived corporate impunity (see: Chevron Corp. v. Yaiguage, 2015 SCC 42), and they are keeping an open mind as to whether a duty of care exists between Canadian companies and the foreign workers who produce their products (see: Choc v. Hudbay Minerals Inc., 2013 ONSC 1414). This emerging trend in Canada is taking place against the backdrop of hardening and expanding international business and human rights standards and norms.
A key test case for this shift in Canada is the ongoing class action lawsuit against Loblaws and Joe Fresh (the “Loblaws Defendants“), which was launched by Bangladeshi garment workers in response to the well-known 2013 Rana Plaza collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which killed 1,130 workers.