As corporations become increasingly multinational, it is understandable that their managers may misunderstand which law they are bound by. In the United States and its territories, U.S. employment law controls. All covered workers regardless of their citizenship or work authorization status are protected by U.S. equal employment opportunity (or “EEO”) laws. This post will go over some common examples and exceptions to this general rule and how they may apply to you.

For example, a Mexican citizen working in a Mexican corporation owned factory in California underneath a Mexican manager is still protected by U.S. EEO laws. That means the manager cannot fire his employees based upon their race, sex, age and any other protected class.

The one exception to this general rule is if the company is operating in the United States under a treaty that abrogates EEO protections. Commonly this means there is a special bilateral or trade agreement that establishes alternative employment protections or applies foreign law to the foreign corporation. But most courts will interpret these treaties very strictly therefore the burden is on the corporation to ensure that they comply with the letter of the treaty.

What happens if you are a U.S. citizen that is employed abroad by a U.S. company? First it is important to know when a company is considered American. Companies are from the U.S. if they are headquartered, based or have significant business contacts in the U.S. So a U.S. worker that is hired by a U.S. company to work in a foreign country is still protected by U.S. EEO laws.

There is one major exception which is that U.S. companies can violate these protections if compliance would violate local law.

If you are employed in the United States or one of its territories then you are protected by U.S. equal employment opportunity laws. If your employer is a foreign national or multi-national corporation they must obey U.S. employment protections. There are no exceptions foreign run or foreign owned companies, regardless of what your employer may say to you. If you believe that your employer discriminated against you, an attorney can help you assert and protect your rights. You have the right to feel safe in your workplace, including being free from discrimination.