2017 Morrison & Foerster Pro Bono Report

AMPLIFYING THE VOICES OF SWEATSHOP WORKERS Workers toiling in unsafe and degrading conditions in overseas factories can now use their mobile phones as a lifeline to get help — thanks to innovative technology from Good World Solutions. More than 12 million people endure forced labor and dangerous working conditions in sweatshops around the world, and about 6,000 die of work- related accidents or diseases each day. Many toil in factories of suppliers to Fortune Global 500 companies, including major U.S. apparel and electronics retailers. These workers suffer in silence, however, because they have no way to be heard or to communicate directly with decision-makers. International companies are increasingly concerned about such conditions and are spending significant sums to create more ethical and sustainable supply chains. A key tool in this effort is the “social audit” in which a paid observer goes to a factory to conduct a physical inspection of the working environment, review payroll records and other documentation, and talk to workers. However, workers are often too fearful of retribution to voice their true concerns to these auditors, and many are coached by managers on how to answer questions. As a result, companies do not have an accurate picture of the working conditions in their factories. FROM SEXUAL HARASSMENT TO CRUMBLING STRUCTURES Recognizing that mobile phones are ubiquitous in developing nations, Good World Solutions, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization, saw them as a powerful way to get to the truth. It developed an innovative mobile platform called Laborlink that enables workers to call in anonymously and privately to report unsafe conditions, harassment, or exploitative practices in their factories. It also provides a channel for global companies to deliver information on health, safety, education, and finances to workers. Since 2010, more than 500,000 workers in 16 countries have used the service, reporting such practices as sexual harassment in South India and dangerous buildings in Bangladesh. Global brands using Laborlink include American Eagle Outfitters, Hasbro, J.Crew, Mattel, Walmart, and Walt Disney. MoFo’s Michael Doherty and Christine Lyon head the pro bono team assisting Good World Solutions. Michael is senior of counsel in the New York office, and Chris is a partner in the Palo Alto office. Other members of the team include associates Justin Haan and Allison Lauterbach Dale from the Technology Transactions Group in San Francisco and Mary Race from the Privacy Group in Palo Alto. The MoFo team advised Good World Solutions on terms of service and privacy policies for the public website and the private portal that companies use to review survey results. A key goal was to protect data confidentiality so that all parties — the workers as well as the multinational corporations that provide the Laborlink service to them — would be protected against unauthorized disclosures of sensitive personal data. THE PROJECT OPENED MY EYES TO HOW MANY COMPANIES ARE EAGER TO GET INFORMATION FROM THE VERY FAR END OF THE SUPPLY CHAIN [AND] THAT THEY DO CARE ABOUT ENDING HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS. JUSTIN HAAN 37 | Morrison & Foerster Pro Bono Report