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AHFA Webinar Will Prepare Furniture Retailers & Manufacturers To Comply With California Transparency in Supply Chains Act

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Home furnishings retailers and manufacturers doing business in California will have yet another unique law to contend with beginning January 1, 2012 – provided they have global sales of $100 million or more.
Called the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, the law requires disclosure of a company’s efforts to maintain a supply chain that is free of slavery and human trafficking.

Under the law, any retailer or manufacturer selling product in the state of California – and with global sales of $100 million or more – must post a public disclosure on its website stating that the company and its direct contractors do not employ slaves or trafficked persons.

Beyond this policy statement, the law requires companies to disclose how, if at all, they are working to make sure their supply chain remains free of slaves and human trafficking.

To help home furnishings companies understand the law and its requirements, the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) is sponsoring a one-hour webinar at 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday, August 9. Registration is available on the AHFA website, www.ahfa.us, under EVENTS.

The program is open to all retailers, manufacturers and suppliers. The cost is $25 for members of AHFA, as well as members of the National Home Furnishings Association and Home Furnishings Independents Association. Registration is $55 for non-members.

The webinar will feature Susanne Gebauer, a corporate social responsibility expert with   Specialized Technology Resources (STR). Gebauer will walk home furnishings companies through the requirements of the California law. In addition to an in-depth explanation of the reporting requirements, she will explain how furniture companies can prepare themselves for the required disclosures.

Gebauer works on corporate social responsibility issues related to labor, health and safety standards in the United States, Western Europe, Canada and the Pacific. She provides project-based assistance to clients that are drafting or improving their social responsibility programs and is currently advising clients on steps for complying with the new California law and providing education on the risks of slavery and human trafficking in the supply chain.

Enforcement of the new Transparency in Supply Chains Act is expected to be similar to other California consumer legislation, most notably California Proposition 65, which provides a mechanism for private citizens to get injunctive relief and attorney fees from alleged violations. This effectively would allow a consumer (or other party) to sue a company for alleged false statements that a product was made “free of slaves or trafficked persons.”

A federal version of the California law could emerge this year. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), co-chair of the Congressional Human Trafficking Caucus, has been a proponent of similar measures, having co-sponsored the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence Act last June. 

Some of the supply chain tracking issues addressed in the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act are already being put into practice nationwide due to the Dodd-Frank Act, which passed last July. It requires that all companies using “conflict minerals” (tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold) from parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo must report the steps they are taking to verify that the income from these minerals were not taxed or used to fund rebel groups.

The American Home Furnishings Alliance, based in High Point, N.C., represents more than 200 leading furniture manufacturers and distributors, plus about 150 suppliers to the furniture industry worldwide.

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