Temporary employees working for New Jersey employers might be uncertain about what their rights are as employees. For example, when a temporary employee suffers discrimination in the workplace based on their protected characteristics or is harassed, they might not know to whom they should report the incident or whether they have the same rights as permanent employees. Temporary employees might also not know what to do if the staffing agency that places them on assignments does something illegal. Swartz Swidler helps temporary and permanent employees understand their employee rights so that they can protect them.
What Are Temporary Employees?
Temporary employees are employees who are hired to perform work at a company for a short duration of up to one year. Temporary employees might be employed by a staffing agency that sends them on temporary job assignments or might be hired directly by a company to work for a short time. For example, a company might hire a temporary employee to work in a position temporarily while one of the company’s permanent employees is out on maternity leave or might request a temporary employee be placed in the position by a staffing agency.
Some companies also use temporary employment to find employees to hire permanently and treat the temp jobs as trial positions. Similarly, a temporary employee can use their job to learn more about a business before agreeing to accept an offer of permanent, full-time employment.
Staffing Agencies and Temporary Employees
Many temporary employees are employed by staffing agencies that make money through contracts with various companies to provide temp workers. The management at a staffing agency might be unwilling to address problematic incidents that occur at one of its client businesses out of fear that the business might replace the staffing agency with a different one. When a temporary employee files complaints about their treatment during an assignment, the staffing agency might stop sending them on assignments.
However, temporary employees have rights. They have the same rights and protections in the workplace as permanent employees. A staffing agency that fails to address workplace discrimination or harassment might be liable to pay damages to a temporary employee.
Workplace Discrimination and Temporary Employees
Like permanent employees, temp employees are protected under federal and state anti-discrimination laws. They are also protected against retaliation for exercising their rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, and others.
These laws prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on the following characteristics:
- National origin
- Gender identity
- Sexual orientation
- Veteran status
- Genetic information
If a temporary employee suffers workplace discrimination based on their protected characteristics, they can file a complaint with their employer. The employer can either be the company that hires them directly to fill a temporary job or a staffing agency that employs them and places them in job assignments. The employer must then investigate what happened and take steps to address the discrimination and end it. If they ignore it or retaliate against the employee for filing a complaint, the employee can pursue a discrimination charge with the EEOC or the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights.
Right to Take Sick Leave
In New Jersey, all employers must provide earned sick leave to employees, including temporary employees. Under New Jersey’s earned sick leave law, employees earn at least one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked.
Protection Against Retaliation
Temporary employees are protected against retaliation based on exercising their rights. For example, if you complain about discrimination or harassment, unsafe work conditions, not receiving the wages you are entitled to receive, or engage in other types of protected activity, a staffing agency or direct employer can’t retaliate against you for doing so. If they do, you can file a separate claim for retaliation against them.
Right to Pay
Like other statutory, non-exempt employees, temporary employees must be paid at least the minimum wage for all hours worked. Since New Jersey’s minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage, you must receive at least New Jersey’s minimum wage. If you are a non-exempt employee, you also are entitled to receive overtime pay for every hour worked above 40 during a week and to receive your wage payments on time. If you are not paid what you are entitled to receive, you can file a wage and hour claim.
Talk to Swartz Swidler
If your employer has violated your rights, you should speak to an employment law attorney at Swartz Swidler. Even if you are a temporary employee, you still have the right to be free from discrimination and retaliation in the workplace, to engage in protected activity, and to receive fair payment for the work you provide. If you have been the victim of illegal workplace discrimination or retaliation or have not received the wages you are owed, we can help. We offer free consultations and can help you navigate the employment situation that you are dealing with. Call us today at (856) 685-7420 to schedule a free case evaluation and learn about the remedies that might be available.