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Are temporary employees able to file discrimination claims?

Temporary workers are covered by the same employment laws as other workers even though they may be hired on a seasonal or short-term basis. They are sometimes misclassified as independent contractors and denied their rights as employees due to the project-oriented nature of their work.

A temporary employee may file a discrimination claim if their employer discriminates against them on the basis of their membership in a protected class, such as age, sex, race, religion, disability or medical condition, national origin or pregnancy. A temporary employee is usually supplied to an employer via a temporary agency. Depending on the specific facts of a case, both the temp agency and the employer that leased the employee can be held liable for workplace discrimination under the Fair Employment and Housing Act if they knew about the discrimination and failed to take immediate action against it.

A worker’s status as an employee may affect their ability to file various discrimination lawsuits against the employer, in addition to the temp agency. The main factor used to determine the employer’s liability is a “right to control” test. The test is similar to the one used to establish a worker’s independent contractor status. A temporary worker may effectively become a leasing company’s employee for legal purposes if the leasing company is found to exercise significant control over the way tasks are accomplished. 

McCormack & Erlich has an extensive background helping people who have experienced discrimination on the job, including permanent and temporary employees.

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