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Joint employers liable for temp worker treatment

New Jersey employers who use temporary workers may be deemed accountable for how those workers are treated, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The DOL has noted that over the years, common arrangements had resulted in a negative impact on many low-wage temporary workers who were often in vulnerable positions. The new guidance is designed to make employers who use subcontractors to provide them with workers more responsible for employment law violations.

In one case from 2015, DirectTV was ordered to pay contract workers just under $400,000 in back pay and other damages. It has been noted that by improperly classifying temporary employees, companies may hope to avoid giving them their mandated overtime pay or minimum wages. Such issues have long been cited as major concerns by those who study labor laws, with some academics echoing the Labor Department's claim that corporate responsibility had suffered under existing regulations.

Although some business advocates say that the guidance might stifle common business practices, it doesn't actually implement any legislative changes. At most, it will impact how federal enforcement officials interpret and act on existing rules. According to one industry association that represents the kinds of staffing firms that often provide outsourced workers, the new guidance is in line with previous court decisions.

Workers who hold temporary positions may find that companies attempt to take advantage of their status or need for employment. Although their lack of traditional positions might make them believe that they have less recourse, they are still protected by various federal and state employment laws. Those who suspect they have been mistreated may wish to speak with an attorney to learn more about their employee rights.

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