Nestlé & Cargill Embroiled in Forced Labor Case

Nestlé & Cargill Embroiled in Forced Labor Case

A U.S. federal appeals court recently reinstated a lawsuit by a group of former child slaves alleging that Nestle USA, the world’s largest food maker, and Cargill Inc. used child slaves in their Ivory Coast cocoa harvesting operation.

The new lawsuit overturns a 2017 ruling that dismissed the case because the foreign plaintiffs had failed to show that any U.S. conduct was linked to the alleged enslavement. The plaintiffs originally sued Nestlé USA, Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. and Cargill Inc. in 2005. According to court records, Archer-Daniels-Midland was removed from the lawsuit in 2016.

Nestlé and Cargill have denied the allegations and are examining appellate options.

Companies Responsible for Supply Chain

Nestlé is alleged to have encouraged the dependence on child slave labor by providing kickbacks to farmers in order to maintain low cocoa prices.

While they did not decide on the merits of the plaintiffs’ claims, the ruling supports the theory that a company can be liable under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), which states that non-U.S. citizens have the right to file lawsuits in U.S. federal courts for certain violations of international law.

Tesla is also currently facing forced labor claims filed under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). The lawsuit alleges that two former workers, who worked for one of Tesla’s subcontractors installing a paint shop at a Tesla facility in Fremont, California, were forced to work more than 250 hours per month with few days off, and received lower than minimum wage pay. The plaintiffs also allege there were threats to withhold medical benefits, visas, pay and immigration benefits if they were too sick to work or reported a job injury.

Corporate Responsibility & Compliance with Assent

Companies that do not conduct due diligence to identify and mitigate risks of human rights violations in their global supply chains are vulnerable to financial and reputational damage, as well as civil litigation.

Assent’s Corporate Social Responsibility Suite helps companies streamline and automate their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. The suite includes a Human Trafficking & Slavery Module, which enables companies to efficiently collect and manage supply chain data, and identify and mitigate human rights-related risk. To learn more about how Assent can help you manage your CSR program, email us at