Working for a staffing agency, you may face discrimination and retaliation as much as or even more than permanent employees. But who is responsible for preventing these activities? Is it the agency? Is it the agency’s client company where you work for days, weeks or months?
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, you are an employee of the staffing agency and the client company, and both are responsible for complying with state and federal guidelines.
The host employer’s responsibility
Every employer who uses temporary employees must follow the same laws that apply to permanent employees, and you have the right to file a complaint if you see or experience unsafe or illegal conditions. The employer cannot retaliate against you by having the staffing agency remove you from the position.
The staffing agency’s responsibility
Staffing agencies must respond to a complaint or a report of unsafe activities by investigating the matter. If host employers do not comply with safety guidelines, the staffing agency should not send workers to them.
If the agency does remove you at the employer’s request after you have engaged in a protected activity, it can also be guilty of retaliation. Placing you at a different worksite does not negate the retaliation.
Signs of retaliation
OSHA lists a number of activities that may be retaliation on the part of the host employer and/or staffing agency, including:
- Reassigning to a less favorable position
- Reducing pay
- Making threats
- Firing or failing to hire
If you find yourself in an undesirable situation but you are unsure of whether it is the result of your protected action, consider filing a complaint with OSHA against the host employer and/or the staffing agency. OSHA investigates such complaints to identify when retaliation has occurred.