Many businesses in Wisconsin outsource labor by hiring temporary workers through staffing agencies. Because staffing agencies tend to pay low wages and offer no employment benefits, companies can save a lot of money using temp workers instead of full-time employees. Temp workers are employed by the outside temp agency rather than the company they are doing work for, so many companies think that they are not responsible for the way that these workers are treated.
On Jan. 20, the United States Department of Labor issued a memorandum about the use of temp workers by companies. According to the federal agency, employers that use subcontractors are responsible for any wage and hour law violations that affect the workers. The companies that hire temp workers could be found liable for wage theft even if they weren’t in charge of paying the workers.
The guidance that was issued by the Labor Department was simply a warning to joint employers, and no existing employment laws have been changed. When workers are not paid minimum wage or overtime, the Labor Department pursues wage theft claims on their behalf. In 2014, DirecTV agreed to settle a wage theft case for $395,000. The money DirecTV paid was compensation for back pay that was denied to temp workers who were doing work for DirecTV through an outside contractor.
A lawyer may be able to help a temp worker to pursue an unpaid wage claim against the companies that hired them. If a worker is unsure whether or not they have a case, a lawyer may be able to look into the details of their contract to determine if they were denied minimum wage, overtime pay and other employee rights.