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Temporary staffing agencies benefit from turning over control

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Workers’ compensation benefits are the exclusive remedy for employees hurt on the job … unless a third party causes their injuries. That exception could, for example, enable a worker hurt by the actions of a temporary employee to sue the temp agency that sent the culprit over. But there’s a hitch, as a recent case shows: Such a lawsuit would be thwarted if the temp agency turned over control and direction of the negligent employee to the work site managers and supervisors.

Recent case: Marshall Behrens was hurt while loading and moving freight trucks. He alleged that a woman employed by a temp agency at the same warehouse gave improper directions, which caused his neck and back injuries.

Even though Behrens got workers’ compensation benefits, he sued the temp agency, alleging it was a third party responsible for its employee’s bad judgment. But the Appellate Court of Illinois disagreed. It reasoned that the temporary employee was on loan to the warehouse and subject to warehouse rules and management, not those of a third party. Therefore, Behrens couldn’t sue the temp agency, too. He had to be satisfied with his workers’ compensation benefits. (Behrens v. California Cartage Company, No. 1-06-2729, Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, 2007) 

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