‘Temps’ have more rights in the workplace

temps In the past, it’s generally been assumed that companies don’t have to treat their workers as employees if they bring them on board via a temp or staffing agency. As long as the agency pays the workers’ salaries, the agency is their real employer.

But that may be changing. For instance, a woman named Brenda Butler signed up with a temp agency in South Carolina. She was assigned to work at an automotive factory, where her supervisor allegedly sexually harassed her.

Brenda complained to both the temp agency and her supervisor’s boss, but neither acted to stop the harassment. In fact, the supervisor’s boss allegedly told the temp agency that the company didn’t need her anymore.

Brenda sued the automotive company for the harassment. The company argued that the lawsuit should be thrown out, because it wasn’t Brenda’s employer – the temp agency was.

However, a federal appeals court sided with Brenda. It said that in this case, Brenda might have had two employers – the temp agency and the automotive company.

Specifically, the court noted that Brenda did the same work as some of the automotive company’s regular employees, she was overseen by one of the company’s regular supervisors, and the company had the ability to “fire” her by telling the agency not to let her return.

Therefore, even though Brenda was a temp, she could sue.