Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Laws


When the world went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, major fashion brands attempted to protect their profits by refusing to pay overseas suppliers for over $16 billion USD of goods between April and June 2020. These decisions had a devastating impact on garment workers who toil at the bottom of the supply chain; thousands of garment workers and their families faced wage theft, dealing with months of unpaid wages, benefits and/or severance pay. In the absence of a regulatory framework to hold corporations responsible, workers, unions, and NGOs resorted to naming and shaming brands into taking action. However, many incidents of pandemic wage theft remain unresolved to date. The COVID-19 pandemic only further exacerbated an existing problem of wage theft and wage insecurity in global supply chains and highlighted the need for a regulatory framework to mitigate the immense influence transnational corporations (TNCs) have over actors within the supply chain. To address this problem, this paper proposes a transnational wage lien law that will allow workers in the global supply chain to recover unpaid wages from TNCs. I begin in Part II by defining the current problem of wage theft in the global labor supply chain – focusing specifically on pandemic wage theft in the garment sector – and discuss why addressing this problem is a key component of the business and human rights agenda. In Part III, I discuss the business and human rights landscape in relation to the regulation of global labor supply chains, including principles of responsibility allocation in labor supply chains, duty-based and chain liability-based legal models for regulating supply chain relationships, and the importance of access to effective remedy. In Part IV, I present a proposal for a transnational wage lien law to enable employees of subcontractors to secure unpaid wages directly from TNCs headquartered in the U.S. This includes an examination of current domestic wage lien laws in the US; an analysis of constitutional and international law considerations, including constitutional division of powers, and extraterritorial jurisdiction and comity, respectively; and finally, practical considerations, such as the administrative agency framework, time- and cost-efficiency, access to information and due diligence, procedural fairness, and political will for enacting such a statutory scheme.


Business Organizations Law | Labor and Employment Law | Law | Transnational Law

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