May employees get their job through a placement agency and when something goes wrong at work the employee doesn’t know who is ultimately responsible for the conduct. In California, the answer depends on the circumstances surrounding the nature of employment, but more often than not, the employee can sue both the agency as well as the company the individual was placed at.
An employment agency, such as a temporary staffing agency or a recruitment company, is covered by the laws by the California Labor Code as well as anti-discrimination and harassment laws if the agency regularly refers employees to employers. This is true even if the employment agency doesn’t receive payment for this service, and the agency is covered no matter how many employees it has.
Similar to a direct employer, an employment agency is prohibited from discriminating against its own employees, as well as in its referral practices. An employment agency may not honor discriminatory employer preferences. For example, it is unlawful to accept a job order specifying the race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (over 40) or disability status of the candidate. An employment agency may not categorize, group or classify job applicants, jobs, or employers based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (over 40) or disability status and make referrals based on the categorizations. For example, it is unlawful to classify and refer only males to “light industry” positions or only females to “clerical” positions. In addition, an employment agency may not maintain a discriminatory environment, or discriminate against its own employees with respect to wages, promotions, etc.
With this in mind, California employers will now share liability with their labor contractors for complying with state labor and wage laws, including safety and workers’ compensation laws.
In addition, the law forbids employers from shifting liability, meaning the client, as well as the labor provider, could be subject to fines and penalties imposed by the state. The law also empowers state enforcement agencies to demand access to records or other information from either the staffing agency or the employer to verify compliance with applicable state laws.
Determining whether you can sue a placement agency depends on the specific facts of your case. Often times, a placement agency’s liability, as well as the employer’s, if case specific and depends on the specific facts of your case.
Schedule a consultation with Jay S. Rothman & Associates to determine whether you have any claims against the placement agency for violation of California’s employment and labor laws.