The company was looking to downsize its operations in the region and was unsure of its obligations in terminating this group of employees.
The caller was right to be concerned.
While terminating an individual employee here in the U.S. can be fraught with legal issues, it pales in comparison to the complex legal challenges that arise when terminating not just an individual but an entire a group of employees overseas.
The majority of countries outside the U.S. have comprehensive regulatory regimes that regulate when and how employees are terminated.
Some countries prohibit no‑cause dismissals entirely, while others impose expensive notice and severance pay obligations and pre-dismissal procedural steps.
I mention all this because White & Cases’ Donald Dowling, Jr. published an excellent primer on international termination of employees—the International Dismissal Toolkit: Individual Employment Terminations and Reductions-in-Force Outside the United States.
The guidebook provides an excellent overview on “ how a US- headquartered multinational employer can conduct either a one-off overseas individual employment dismissal or a full‑blown global reduction-in force.”
The guide is broken down into five parts:
(1) general approach to dismissing staff outside the United States;
(2) threshold dismissal circumstances(cause, economic necessity employee rank and status) outside the United States;
(3) individual employment dismissal obligations outside the United States;
(4) agreed separations and employment releases outside the United States; and
(5) reductions-in-force and “collective redundancies” outside the United States
For specific information on labor practices in France, be sure to read my earlier post, U.S. Companies Facing Increased Litigation in France over Labor Practices.