Temp Agency Socked With $72K Payment to Settle EEOC Racial, Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Temp agencies can outsource their workers to other companies but not their responsibility to protect these workers from on-the-job harassment.

Case in point a temporary staffing agency in Pennsylvania, which recently agreed to pay $72,500 to settle a sexual and racial harassment against it brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced the settlement with Labor Ready Northeast Inc. on November 10.

According to EEOC’s lawsuit, Labor Ready’s Washington, PA branch sent two female employees to a single-day work assignment in Metz, West Virginia at the job site of one of Labor Ready’s customers, Panhandle Cleaning and Restoration. While they were at the job site, two of the customer’s male employees subjected the women to offensive race and sex-biased comments, including racial epithets and remarks directed toward one of the women, who is multiracial, and overtly sexual statements; groping one woman’s breasts, and attempting to physically intimidate the two women. EEOC also charged that the two women made multiple complaints to Labor Ready about the harassing actions of the customer’s employees and the Washington branch manager’s inaction regarding those complaints, but instead of investigating the women’s complaints and taking corrective action, Labor Ready retaliated against them by denying them a promised work assignment and firing them for their complaints.

“Temporary workers are among the most vulnerable workers in our economy, and the staffing industry must recognize that it has a clear, non-delegable duty under Title VII to protect workers placed at customer worksites from harassment and other forms of discrimination,” said EEOC Philadelphia Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.  “The staffing industry owes a duty of care to its workers, not deference to its customers. We are pleased that Labor Ready cooperated with EEOC to settle this matter with decree terms intended to protect Labor Ready’s employees.”

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