Employment Law Rights for U.S. Citizens Working Abroad
This guide provides basic information for employment laws that may protect U.S. Citizens working abroad/outside of the United States.
Am I Protected from Discrimination If I Am a US Citizen Working Abroad?To determine whether U.S. Employment laws may protect a U.S. citizen working abroad, you first must determine whether the employer is a U.S.-based employer. If that is the case, then U.S. citizens working abroad for U.S. based employer may have protections under certain federal laws.
In the United States, and for U.S. citizens working abroad for a U.S.-based employer, the United States Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency in charge of enforcing civil rights laws. The EEOC provides that the following employment discrimination laws may apply to a U.S. citizen working for an American employer *overseas*:
-Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects U.S. citizens from discrimination in employment or compensation on the basis of their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Title VII prohibits overt acts of discrimination as well as workplace harassment that may lead to a *hostile work environment* due to a protected trait (such as hostile work environment because of gender).
-The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1976 (ADEA), which further protects U.S. citizens against employment discrimination on the basis of age, provided she is at least 40 years old.
-The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits job discrimination on the basis of an employee*s physical or mental impairment, and also requires an employer to make *reasonable accommodation* upon request for such impairments.
In addition to the U.S. laws, American employees working overseas may be entitled to additional protections under the laws of their host countries. For instance, employees may be entitled to certain employment rights in the countries where they are working (such as European Union laws if the employee is working in Europe).
Are There Protections Against Discrimination for Employees Working Abroad for a Non-US Employer?For U.S. citizens working abroad for a non-U.S. employer, it may not be immediately obvious the employer or the employee whether U.S. law applies. For example, in some situations, employees might have an Employment Contract that provides that U.S. law (or a certain state law) applies to their employment. Some states, like California, provide that a California employee's contract must be controlled by California law (limited to certain exceptions). If none of these situations apply, then there could be a situation where U.S. law does not protect the U.S. citizen working abroad. In those cases, the employee may still have employment protections, but under the laws of the country where they are working.