Are staffing employees protected from discrimination under the law?

temp agencyIn general, an employment agency is defined by Title VII as any person who regularly undertakes to procure employees for an employer, or to procure employment opportunities for an employee; the definition includes an agent of such a person.

EEOC Notice Number 915.002 provides public guidance as to issue of whether a staffing employee is protected from discrimination at the workplace that the employee is sent to.  The EEOC clearly holds that “staffing firm workers are generally covered under the anti- discrimination statutes.  This is because they typically qualify as “employees” of the staffing firm, the client to whom they are assigned, or both.”

A staffing agency must place applicants with any particular client in a non discriminatory manner.  The client was must treat the worker in a non discriminatory manner.  If the staffing firm learns of any particular violations, the staffing firm must take corrective action immediately.

The EEOC guidance clarifies any ambiguity with following statement:  “Staffing firms may assume that they are not responsible for any discrimination or harassment that their workers confront at the clients’ work sites.  Similarly, some clients of staffing firms may  assume that they are not the employers of temporary or contract workers assigned to them, and that they therefore have no EEO obligations toward these workers.  However, as this guidance explains, both staffing firms and their clients share EEO responsibilities toward these workers.”

Are staffing firm workers “employees” within the meaning of the federal employment discrimination laws?  Yes. 

The worker is a covered employee under the anti-discrimination statutes if the right to control the means and manner of her work performance rests with the firm and/or its client rather than with the worker herself.

Is a staffing firm worker who is assigned to a client an employee of the firm, its client, or both? Most often both.

If both the staffing firm and its client have the right to control the worker, and each has the statutory   minimum number of employees, they are covered as  “joint employers.”

Which workers are counted when determining whether a staffing firm or its client is covered under Title     VII, the ADEA, or the ADA? The staffing firm and the client each must count every worker with whom it has an employment relationship.


About Roland

Roland was born in Nashville, Tennessee and raised in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. The first few years he resided in Paris, France with his mother who was French. In Hendersonville, he attended Beech Senior High School where played soccer and studied in the honors curriculum. Subsequently, he pursued two majors in political science and economics while graduating in three years.

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