The intersection of business objectives and human rights standards can create a complex dynamic that requires companies to navigate competing regulatory regimes, complex business relationships, reputational and geopolitical risks, and market demands. Our global, multidisciplinary business and human rights law practice combines our demonstrated experience in compliance, investigations, workplace culture, dispute resolution, and transactions with global competence and industry knowledge to develop creative and strategic approaches to these critical and evolving risks.
Responsible employment practices and supply chain transparency and risk management are critical to core business operations as well as in relation to internal and external stakeholders. Morgan Lewis maintains a business and human rights law practice, within our firm’s broader ESG and sustainability practice, to monitor developments in legislation, litigation, activism, and public/social media reaction keep our clients informed. We help clients tailor tools and strategies suited to their business models, jurisdictions, and constituencies.
Global supply chains are complicated, dynamic, and often decentralized. Ensuring the integrity of a supply chain has grown increasingly difficult as scrutiny—particularly in the area of human rights—has intensified. Labor violations are a serious concern for organizations engaged in business relationships around the world, and validating the integrity of a supply chain requires organizations to ensure visibility and compliance—often in areas where transparency is challenging.
Our lawyers help clients to prevent, manage, and mitigate the growing risks surrounding labor practices, as governments and non-governmental organization (NGOs) become more active in addressing human rights by holding companies accountable for labor violations in their supply-chains. Our cross-disciplinary, global team collaborates seamlessly to advise clients on compliance with legislation and trade policies, or to represent them in contentious governmental proceedings.
We have a command of the issues our clients face when navigating the often-conflicting political and regulatory regimes, market access issues, and opaque supply chains. Our seasoned practitioners use decision-tree analysis and other tools to help our clients evaluate strategies that protect their companies, employees, business partners, and investments.
Employers around the world are more than ever being held to a shared standard of employee rights—including equal pay for equal work, a discrimination- and harassment-free work environment, and employment at will. Ensuring the workplace adheres to this standard is critical to managing both reputational and regulatory risk. Proactive attention to workplace culture, hiring practices, and labor relations remains at the core of complying with converging employment standards.
Addressing the important issues of race, ethnicity, and social justice in a sustainable and systemic way starts with workplace culture. We assist our clients in developing holistic diversity initiatives, antiharassment approaches, and workplace policies; conducting investigations and defending claims, including reverse discrimination; partnering with labor economists to perform demographic data analyses; and providing guidance on workplace training issues.
Scrutiny of employment practices typically starts with the hiring process. Our lawyers help companies to validate that their hiring and onboarding processes are transparent and comply with accepted human rights standards—including employment at will, minimum age requirements, and minimum wage—ensuring an adherence to the prescribed policies and standards that are crucial in preventing or mitigating employment actions.
Labor unions and other employee representation are growing in visibility and prevalence around the world, yet worker representation laws vary significantly across countries and regions. Our labor practice can swiftly field skillful and insightful teams to help our clients keep pace with the changing dynamics of unions, works councils, and workers’ committees. Our deep bench of labor-management relations talent counsels clients on corporate campaigns, union negotiations, strikes, collective bargaining, and project labor agreements. The rise of regulations creating significant labor relations challenges in both unionized and non-unionized settings has also made our role as a trusted adviser to our clients increasingly important.
Modern due diligence is complex and global in nature, and requires a skill set and specialized knowledge to handle the broad expanse of issues under consideration. Sophisticated due diligence also calls for a keen grasp of international information-sharing regulations, as properly executed transactions and investments require that parties to a deal have visibility into the business operations and relationships at play.
We help our clients to make informed decisions and identify appropriate deal structures in a wide range of transactions. Our due diligence services focus on numerous corporate aspects, including financial statements, finances, contracts, and customers. Our efforts also extend beyond corporate services to include third-party conduct, data breach and cybersecurity, intellectual property, and employment law liability.
Given our firm’s global reach and practice breadth, our clients also benefit from our ability to draw upon the resources and talents of practices outside of traditional corporate/M&A to optimize deals—including labor and employment, litigation, regulatory, corporate governance, government contracts, tax, capital markets and public companies, intellectual property, environmental, employee benefits, and antitrust. We also have industry command across sectors including education, energy, financial services, healthcare, life sciences, retail and ecommerce, sports, technology, and transportation, which inform our strategic due diligence for clients.
Global regulators, enforcement agencies, investors, and commercial business partners expect that companies—regardless of size, industry, and geography—implement effective ethics and compliance programs. Regulators expect such programs from publicly traded companies. For other companies, boards, senior management, and investors are increasingly invested in enabling growth while minimizing legal, compliance, and reputational risk. Our corporate ethics and compliance team helps clients effectively identify and mitigate legal and compliance risks in accordance with their risk thresholds—a strategic imperative given that such issues often are closely correlated with a company’s reputation.
We recognize that each company’s compliance needs are unique and require an approach that is tailored to that company and the nuanced issues it faces. That is why a key tenet of our practice is bespoke and integrated compliance implementation, including counseling on or building of global compliance programs, developing codes of conduct and other compliance policies, conducting risk assessments, making improvements to internal controls and processes, and training employees.
From pre- and post-transaction due diligence to compliance counseling and training, our lawyers implement mechanisms designed to reduce the risk of corrupt activity—and the enforcement actions and other consequences that can flow from them. Where investigations arise, we advise on remedial actions along the way, using our intimate understanding of enforcement agency expectations to best position our clients to mitigate exposure.