Companies of all sizes in Pennsylvania and around the country turn to staffing agencies when they need workers with specialized skills or to provide additional staff during busy periods. These agencies sometimes handle administrative tasks such as organizing payroll, submitting health insurance premiums and scheduling time off, but they rarely supervise the workers they place or have any control over how they are treated.
Staffing agencies sued for discrimination
This lack of control can be a crucial factor when staffing agencies are named as defendants in lawsuits alleging racial discrimination or sexual harassment. One such case was filed recently in California by two workers who alleged that they had been denied promotions because of their skin color. Two staffing agencies were named as defendants in the lawsuit because they recruited the plaintiffs and took care of several matters usually handled by employers. The claims against the staffing agencies were dismissed by the trial court and an appeals court affirmed the dismissal.
The panel of appeals judges determined that the staffing companies were “innocent bystanders” because they had no control over whether or not the plaintiffs were promoted and were not involved in any way with their day-to-day supervision. One of the appeals judges pointed out that a company should not be held liable for discrimination if it did not discriminate.
Employment law litigation
Allegations of discrimination or harassment can do great damage to an employer’s reputation, which is why these allegations should be taken seriously even if they appear to be unfounded. Attorneys with employment law experience could file motions to dismiss lawsuits or advocate vigorously on behalf of employers in court when harassment or discrimination allegations seem groundless.