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Are temporary workers covered under anti-discrimination laws?

The latest jobs report (for the month of February) revealed a steady increase in hiring. Overall, the nation's economy added 224, 000 jobs, which was a welcome sight compared to the number of jobs added in January.

Compared to the same period in 2012 (the last presidential election cycle) unemployment was 8.3 percent and economic fears centered on high gas prices, large consumer debt and government furloughs. Four years later, unemployment is 4.9 percent, and fears center on low oil prices, which have a negative effect on stocks.

Even though more people are working, companies still rely on a healthy dose of temporary workers. Because of this those who work temp jobs may not know their rights under federal law as it pertains to discrimination. This post will provide some background.

Essentially, temporary workers are covered under the same anti-discrimination laws that protect permanent employees. Temp workers qualify as "workers" in the traditional sense because they basically work for the agency that assigns them to their client (the company that needs the staffing help.) As such, neither the temporary staffing company nor their client may discriminate on the basis of race, sex, color, religion, age, national origin or disability.

If you are a temporary worker and have the misfortune of being discriminated against, there are several things you should do, including:

Telling the staffing agency - It is critical that you inform the staffing agency that assigned you of the treatment. Chances are that they may have had a similar problem with that same client.

Report treatment to the relevant government agency - This may include initiating an investigation with the nearest FEHA office or the EEOC. If the discrimination includes unpaid wages, perhaps a visit to the Department of Labor is needed.

If you have additional questions, an experienced employment law attorney can help.

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