Tag Archives: staffing firm

Temporary Staffing Agency to Pay $435,000 to Settle EEOC Race Discrimination Suit


Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

A temporary staffing agency will pay $435,000 to settle a race and national origin discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that claimed the company illegally granted placement preferences to Hispanic Temps over African American Temps, the EEOC has announced. Continue reading

Staffing Company Settles FCRA Class Action Lawsuit


Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

A staffing company has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit that claims the firm allegedly violated the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when obtaining background checks on job applicants, according to a TopClassActions.com report. Continue reading

Amazon Motion of Summary Judgement Denied in FCRA Lawsuit


Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

A judge in Washington state has denied a motion of summary judgement filed by Amazon.com and a staffing company in a class action lawsuit claiming the online retail giant violated the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), according to a TopClassActions.com report. Continue reading

New NLRB Joint Employer Standard Could Increase Liability for Acts of Staffing Vendors


Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The dangers of lawsuits against employers for the actions of their staffing vendors may have increased with the August 27, 2015 decision by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in a case where the definition of a “joint” employer was expanded by holding that the ability of an employer to exercise control over a worker can create joint employment, according to one safe hiring expert. Continue reading

Class Action Lawsuit against Major National Online Retailer Underscores Need to Comply with the FCRA


Written By Attorney Lester Rosen, Founder & CEO of Employment Screening Resources (ESR)

In a class action lawsuit filed in federal court in Seattle on April 7, 2015, a major national online retailer and a staffing firm that provides workers have been sued in a class action lawsuit alleging that the defendants failed to comply with the adverse action notice requirements of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) where employment was denied due to a past criminal matter. Continue reading

Staffing Vendors, Co-employment, Background Checks, and Lawsuits

By Lester S. Rosen, President of ESR

(First published on RecruitingTrends.com)

As the recession begins to slowly turn around, employers are naturally cautious about increasing the size of the workforce until it becomes clear that hiring additional full-time workers is justified. The solution traditionally has been to hire through staffing agencies so that an employer had flexibility to adjust to the ups and downs of the recovery. 

However, the notion that just because workers are on someone else’s payroll that they are not a businesses’ responsibility or problem is simply not true.

It is clear, in fact, that when a business hires temporary workers, the business assumes much of the same liability as when workers are hired directly. Although staffing agencies still have duties to pay wages and handle such items as reporting to appropriate agencies and workers compensation insurance, there are a host of potential employment law liabilities that are still the responsibility of the employer.

An employer can still be sued for sexual harassment, or for having a hostile workplace, or for discrimination regardless of whether the worker gets paid by the company, or paid through a staffing firm. That is because the temporary worker is still under the control and direction of the workplace. This falls under the legal doctrine of co-employment, where both the staffing vendor and the business have duties and obligations. 

For employers, the scope of their co-employment responsibility can even extend to liability for negligent hiring and negligent retention. The law is absolutely clear that if a temporary employee harms a member of the public or a co-worker, the employer can be just as liable as if the person were on the employer’s payroll.  Many employers have found out the hard way that unscreened or inadequately workers from a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) or staffing vendor can also cause damage. A business can be liable if, in the exercise of reasonable care, the business should have known that a temporary worker was dangerous, unqualified, or otherwise unfit for employment. An employer has an absolute obligation to exercise due diligence not only in whom they hire on payroll, but in whom they allow on premises to perform work.

No employer would dream of walking down the street and handing the keys to the business to a total stranger, yet many employers across America essentially do exactly that every day when engaging the services of vendors and temporary workers.

Part of the problem is that the word “screening” is used differently by staffing vendors and employers.  A staffing vendor will “screen” applicants to determine whether a candidate’s resume is a match for the job description.  For employers concerned with due diligence, and risk-management, “screening” means having a background check performed to determine whether the person is safe and qualified. 

Of course, in the event of a lawsuit where an employer is sued, the employer would likely turn around and blame the staffing vendor or PEO. However, the employer will still need to justify its own due diligence in how it selected and supervised the staffing vendor.

The PEO or staffing firm would likely blame the employer for failure to specify what was required. Although the eventual outcomes will depend upon specific facts, employers and staffing vendors can avoid these difficulties in the first place by clearly addressing who has what duties.

These are some of the issues that should be clarified when an employer and staffing vendor work together: 

  • Which party is going to perform the background check — the staffing vendor or the employer?
  • What is the screening protocol to be used? Ideally, employers should require a staffing vendor to utilize the same criteria used for their own W-2 employees.
  • What Background Screening firm will be used? The employer needs to ensure that the staffing vendor utilizes a background screening agency that is experienced and qualified for the assignment and follows best practices, such as not offshoring data, not using home based operators, and not substituting cheap database checks instead of real criminal searches.
  • Whose responsibility is it to actually review the Background Screening report?  There have been cases where staffing firms have found negative information but no one read the report or acted on it.  The negative information typically comes to light when the employer decides to make the worker permanent, and performs its own background check, only to discover that a crime or resume fraud was missed or not acted upon.
  • In the event derogatorily or negative information is found, how are decisions to be made?  The use of automated pass/fail criteria by the staffing vendor are increasingly becoming a potential Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issue, since it can have the affect of discrimination against protected classes of applicants.  Another solution is to send anything of a negative nature to the business for a final decision on whether they want that person on the premises.  Some staffing vendors, however, take the position that since it is their employee, it is their decision.  The critical point is to work out the protocol in advance.
  • Do the consent and disclosure forms for background checks reflect the roles of the parties?  Under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a business can request that the background release extend to the business so it can review the background report. However the background release must also clarify that the staffing vendor is the employer of record.
  • Who is going to pay for the background checks? 
  • Who is going to send out the required adverse action notices or conduct a re-investigation? 

The bottom-line: staffing vendors can avoid a great deal of difficulty if these issues are addressed and documented upfront so that everyone is clear on who has what responsibly when it comes to safe hiring.

For more information on background checks staffing vendors, co-employment, background checks, and lawsuits, please visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at http://www.esrcheck.com.



Screening expands beyond new employees to vendors and others on premises

By Les Rosen, Employment Screening Resources

2010 Trends in Screening Trend Eight:  Screening will expand beyond new employees to vendors and others on premises

This is another ongoing area that will heat up due to the recession. In a recovery period, employers typically turn to temporary employees before committing themselves to full-time hires.  However, under the legal doctrine of co-employment, an employer has exposure regardless of whether the worker is on the company payroll or being paid by a staffing firm. With lawsuits for negligent hiring on the rise, employers can still find themselves the target of negligent hiring by failing to supervise the hiring practices of their staffing vendors.  Temporary workers and vendors coming on premises have access to company property and can still create a risk of workplace violence, theft, or embezzlement.  New and additional resources are coming online in 2010 to help employers manage the screening of their vendors.

Another area where screening will expand is the availability of applicants to run their own background checks.  Applicants will have the ability to screen themselves as part of the job-hunting process in order to find out ahead of time if there is anything in the public records about them that is negative, and as a tool to get an employer’s attention. Of course, an employer must still exercise its own due diligence so that all applicants are treated in a similar fashion, but pre-screening may help applicants get noticed faster.  An area that has yet to establish itself is the continual screening of current workers periodically after they are hired.  As Employment Screening Resources (ESR) has noted in previous articles, there are still issues to be worked out before such a practice gains wide acceptance.

(Employment Screening Resources (ESR), a leading national online employment screening background firm, is releasing the ESR Third Annual Top Ten Trends in the Pre-Employment Background Screening Industry for 2010. This is the EIGHTH of the ten trends ESR will be tracking in 2010.)

Screening Vendors and Temporary Workers

A recent article in the SHRM 2008 Staffing Management Library underscores the need to screen even temporary hires.  Although many employers have well thought-out programs for their regular employees, temporary employees from staffing firms, 1099 workers or vendors pose similar risks.  The article explained why screening temporary employees is critical, and offers suggestions on how a firm can protect itself.

The article also quotes ESR President Lester S. Rosen: 

“Even if you have a person on a short-term assignment, you’re exposed,” added attorney Lester S. Rosen, president and CEO of the Novato, Calif.-based firm Employment Screening Resources. “They have the keys to the kingdom. Once they’re inside your building, they have access to your files and have the potential to do great harm.”

Rosen said that while staffing vendors “have traditionally not engaged in a great deal of screening because it slows down the placement time and adds to the cost,” they need to understand that they have “a huge risk” if they send unscreened employees to a workplace.

“They have to realize that every placement they make is potentially a game of Russian Roulette that can put them out of business,” he explained. “If you’re a staffing vendor, it only takes one bad hire to lose your reputation, lose a client and [potentially to] get sued.”

And even though an extended worker may be getting a paycheck from the staffing vendor, under “co-employment” law, employers may still be at risk of a negligent hiring suit if something goes wrong.

“If [temporary employees] cause a hostile workplace, hurt a member of the public or attack a co-worker, arguably employers are just as liable as they would be if this were a full-time, regular employee,” Rosen said.

The fact that the staffing vendor said it did background checks may not be much of a defense for an employer if the check was inadequate or ineffective. For this reason, it pays to do adequate due diligence to head off any potential lawsuits down the road.

After all, Rosen said, “Even the CIA will, every so often, hire a spy or a crook.”

The article discusses the need to evaluate the risks involved in utilizing an extended workforce and to develop an appropriate screening program.  The screening may be performed by the same firm that checks new applicants.  If done by the staffing vendor’s firm, then the employer can require that the same protocols be used that it uses internally. 

For a full copy of the article, see http://www.shrm.org/ema/library_published/nonIC/CMS_024438.asp#TopOfPage