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Temporary Workers and Discrimination: An Introduction

The economic recession and slow recovery have made temporary work a way of life for many Americans. Temp work can be a good short-term means of paying bills while looking for a permanent job.

Businesses love temp workers because such workers require less training, fewer benefits, and are relatively easy to replace. Unfortunately, with fewer incentives to invest in temp workers, many employers also mistreat temp workers or allow management or permanent employees to mistreat them. However, temp workers have many of the same legal workplace protections as full-time employees.

In particular, temp workers can and should take action if they have been victims of discrimination or harassment in the workplace.

Anti-discrimination laws forbid temp worker agencies and employers from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability. Workplace harassment laws also provide protection for temp workers.

Temp workers who have been victims of discrimination, harassment, and other improper behavior need not accept such treatment as part of the job. Such misbehavior should be reported to the appropriate contacts at the worker's placement agency or the employer's management or human resources department. Human resources staff may seem less than helpful, but it is important to register a complaint in order to preserve your options later. If helpful, ask to be reassigned to another department.

If the agency or employer takes no corrective action, you may have legal options. Please contact an experienced employment attorney to discuss your situation.

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