When the economy began to decline, the number of temporary employment positions grew, even as full-time employment opportunities waned. However, even though the economy is recovering, a great many Americans continue to be employed in temporary (or temp) positions.
The laws governing these positions do not necessarily grant these workers all of the same rights as full-time workers. However, temp workers are generally protected from employment discrimination.
Temp workers are not technically employed by the companies that they provide services for. Instead, temp workers are legally employed by the agencies that cut their paychecks. These staffing agencies, like all other employers, generally may not discriminate in hiring, course of employment or firing due to race, gender, nationality, age or other protected characteristics.
The companies that supervise the services of temp workers may also be held liable for employment discrimination, should they direct agencies to hire, fire or otherwise treat employees illegally as a result of any protected characteristic.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is the federal agency charged with protecting Americans from workplace discrimination and harassment, provides guidelines on the subject of temporary workers.
These EEOC guidelines emphasize that because staffing agencies are classified as employers and the temp workers they hire are employees, federal discrimination law applies to these relationships in much the same ways as it does to full-time employment relationships.
The bottom line is that absent rare and complicated exceptions, employers are not allowed to discriminate against their employees or potential employees, if the discrimination is the result of a person's protected classification. And fortunately, when workers are discriminated against, the law has many mechanisms which can be employed to protect their rights and ensure proper compensation.
Source: CBS News, "Do temporary workers have any rights?" Suzanne Lucas, May 22, 2012