Temporary employees do not leave their legal rights at your door. In fact, they enjoy the same rights as your permanent employees.
Consider, for example, EEOC v. Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA, in which an employer recently agreed to pay $65,000 to settle claims brought by a temporary employee that she was subjected to a sexually hostile work environment and fired after repeatedly complaining about it.
The allegations are not pretty.
LaToya Young began working as a temp at Massimo Zanetti in late January 2015. Within 10 days of starting her placement, a male co-worker began making sexually harassing comments to her:
- Telling Young that he had “blue balls” and asking her “Why don’t you help me out with that?”
- Telling Young that he wanted to “suck [her] bottom lip.”
- Telling Young that he wanted to have sex with her, often using lewd language.
- Telling Young that he imagined himself engaging in sexual relations with her.
- Telling Young that he would “ball [her] up like a pretzel” and would “have [her] screaming.”
- Grabbing his groin area while looking directly at her.
- Blowing kisses at her.
- Licking his lips and biting his bottom lip while looking at her.
Young complained three times to her supervisor. The harassment continued unabated after the first complaint. After the second complaint, Young alleges that her supervisor warned her that going to HR “would jeopardize her employment.” After the third complaint, she was fired.
According to EEOC Regional Attorney Kara Haden, “Employers must take appropriate action to stop harassment of all employees, including temporary workers.” She adds, “We hope that this case sends a clear message that the EEOC will hold accountable employers who fail to protect all employees from workplace harassment.”
Take heed of this lesson. Your temporary employees have the same civil rights as your permanent employees.
This post originally appeared on the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog, and was written by Jon Hyman, Partner, Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis. Jon can be reached at via email at email@example.com, via telephone at 216-831-0042, on LinkedIn, and on Twitter.