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Are temp workers protected from workplace discrimination?

Temporary workers typically don’t have the most illustrious jobs. As a temp, you may be treated like a second-class citizen in the workplace. Perhaps the company you’re working at needed some extra hands during the holiday rush, so they contracted you to help out with basic, menial tasks. Consequently, they treat you like a low-status laborer with no real skills or substance. Perhaps your temporary status excludes you from team meetings—which are only reserved for permanent employees. On top of that, you have no sense of job security, because as a temp, your boss can cancel your contract at the drop of a hat.

While some disadvantages may just come with the territory of being a temp worker, your temporary status still entitles you to basic protections in the workplace. In this post we examine your legal rights as a temp:

Discrimination

There is a common misconception that temporary workers are not protected from discrimination. This is simply not true. If a company informs a temp agency that they only want to hire temp workers in a certain age group, for example, that company could be liable for discrimination, and the temp agency could be liable if it complies with the request.

In addition, it’s important to understand that as a temp hired through a recruiting agency, you typically qualify as an employee of that agency—and a sort of “employee once removed” of the company that contracted you. Therefore, you have protection from discrimination by either organization.

Recourse

If you experience discrimination in the workplace as a temp, a good first step is to report it—either to the human resources department of the company that contracted you or to your temp agency. If things don’t improve, you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). It’s also a good idea to consult with an employment attorney to evaluate your case and the compensation you may deserve.

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