In a struggling economy, and with many Americans out of work, more and more people are turning to staffing agencies to find employment. And, many employers are concurrently using staffing agencies to find talent. A staffing agency is an organization that matches employers to employees.
Under Ohio and Federal law, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against employees on the basis of the employee’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and disability. A recent statement released by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) announced that it had filed a lawsuit on behalf of an employee who was terminated because of her prosthetic leg. The EEOC stated that it filed the suit against both the employer for whom she worked and the staffing agency that placed her at her position with the employer. The staffing agency had told the employee that she was being fired because the company did not want other employees bumping into her in the warehouse at which she worked. The staffing agency defended its actions by stating that it was simply carrying out the employer’s directives. The EEOC, however, rejected the staffing agency’s “we were just following orders” defense:
Staffing agencies cannot avoid liability for discrimination by saying they were just following an employer-client’s orders, nor can employers avoid liability by saying the victim was ‘really employed’ by their staffing agency,” said John Hendrickson, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago. “It’s a pretty good bet that a worker with a prosthetic leg is always going to be protected by the ADA, and an equally good bet that flat-out firing the worker for that reason is going to violate the law. This scenario should not be all that difficult for employers to avoid.”
The moral of the story is that, under EEOC laws, staffing agencies and the employers that utilize their services share liability for employment discrimination. According to the website on which I found this story, it is a good idea for staffing agencies to consider writing indemnification clauses into their agreements with the employers with which they work. These indemnification clauses may help protect the staffing agency against liability when the employer discriminates. Otherwise, the staffing agency may be exposed to liability.
If you even think that your employment rights have been violated or that you might need an employment lawyer, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm is dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.
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