A temporary employee is a person that is hired to perform work, but is not necessarily considered an official member of the company or business. They may be hired on a daily or temporary basis, and are often recruited to do work that is seasonal or for completing specific projects. Temporary employees may often be supplied through a “temp agency” or temporary employee agency.

Temporary employees such as day laborers or contingent workers also have legal rights. Just because they aren’t regular members of a company doesn’t mean that they aren’t protected by basic federal provisions regarding labor and employment. While the employee may not be able to claim benefits provided to regular workers, they generally have the right to be free from conduct such as harassment or discrimination.

What Are Temporary Employee Discrimination Claims?

A temporary employee discrimination claim is where an employer discriminates against a temporary worker on the basis of their membership in a protected class (such as their race, age, national origin, religion, or disability). Although each state has different anti-discrimination laws, federal laws generally hold that discrimination laws still apply even if the worker was provided through a temp agency.

Who Can be Held Liable for Discrimination Against a Temporary Employee?

This is where it gets tricky- usually the employee will first contact the temp agency, who will then supply the business organization with the employee for labor purposes. The question then becomes whether it is the temp agency or the actual business hirer who can be held liable for discrimination.

In some cases, it will be clear that the business hirer may be guilty of discrimination, especially if this is supported by statistics.  On the other hand, the temp agency can also be held liable if they uphold discriminatory policies. In some cases, it can be both the business and the temporary employment agency that are liable for discrimination. Close cases may require the assistance of a lawyer. 

In cases that aren’t so clear, the main factor is the extent of the hirer’s control over the worker’s work performance.  That is, the temporary employee may effectively become the business’ employee for legal purposes, if the business organization has sufficient control over the worker’s labor.  

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Temporary Employee Discrimination Claims?

Anti-discrimination laws can often involve very complex legal determinations. If you have any questions or disputes involving temporary employment, you should speak with an employment lawyer right away. Your attorney may be able to help you receive compensation for any losses resulting from the discrimination. In some cases, you may be able to obtain other remedies, such as receiving benefits that were denied to you, or being reinstated to a position you were fired from.