On June 23, 2016, in a hotly contested referendum, British voters chose to leave the European Union in a contest dubbed “Brexit” (for “British exit”). It will take some time before the full implications of this decision become apparent to employers with operations in the UK.
In the United States, the debate over protections for transgender employees continues, even as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, some courts, and the U.S. Justice Department take the position that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act provides employment protection for transgender employees on a national level. In addition, many states, counties and municipalities have enacted their own laws protecting transgender employees in the workplace. Although many countries outside of the United States do not prohibit discrimination against transgender employees, U.S. citizens living and working overseas may be protected under U.S. law from transgender discrimination and harassment, and U.S. employers may also have a duty to protect transgender employees traveling on company business from violence and harassment in the host country.
The UK Modern Slavery Act, which was signed into law on March 26, 2015, is now in effect. In addition to setting forth muscular penalties and enforcement mechanisms to address practices including “slavery, servitude, and forced or compulsory labour” and “human trafficking”, the Act requires qualifying commercial organizations to publically disclose what actions they have taken to eliminate prohibited practices from their businesses and supply chains—or to disclose that they have taken no action. According to guidance published by Home Secretary Rt Hon Teresa May MP, the disclosure requirement is intended to “require businesses to be transparent about what they are doing and will increase competition to drive up standards” in this area of human rights.
The United States has long been referred to as a melting pot. But, some commentators challenge this notion, offering instead that the United States is more akin to a meal of separate and diverse ingredients; an orchestra of individual musicians who together create a symphony. While members of the United States’ many ethnic groups still engage in some assimilation – namely the adoption of the English language – they need not totally abandon their cultural heritage in order to fit into the framework of today’s America. This is multiculturalism.