He’s not your employee! Don’t meddle with contracted service workers — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

He’s not your employee! Don’t meddle with contracted service workers

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Posted on site during week of July 24, 2007 (not put in HR Weekly)

If you use contracted service employees to provide security, cleaning or other labor at your facilities, be aware that under some circumstances you may be considered a “special employer” of those employees. That may mean lawsuits over alleged discrimination, harassment and the like—even though your relationship is strictly a contractual one with the employee’s direct employer.

To avoid problems, exercise as little control over the service employees as is practical. If you adopt a hands-off policy, you won’t become a “special employer.”

Recent case: Wayman Thompson, who is black, worked as a security guard for Leedom Security Services and was assigned to work for the Oceanaire Homeowners’ Association. He claimed that an employee of Oceanaire harassed him. He sued under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, alleging that Oceanaire was liable as his “special employer” because it directed some details of his work.

But the court disagreed after it learned Thompson had been directly supervised by a Leedom supervisor. While Oceanaire may have told Thompson generally what his duties were while guarding the gated community, that wasn’t enough to create an employee/employer relationship. (Thompson v. Oceanaire Homeowners’ Association, No. B186673, Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate Division, 2007) 

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