Temp to permanent? OK to set standards high

Sometimes, employees are hired as temporary workers with an eye toward offering the best of them permanent jobs later. For workers, it’s a good way to get a foot in the door and a chance to prove themselves. The temp-to-permanent track can be a win-win for everyone.

It’s perfectly fine to establish high standards for making the jump to permanent employment.

Recent case: José, who is Hispanic and black and of Puerto Rican origin, took a temporary job with a commercial building cleaning and maintenance company. He did well in the temp position, substituting for permanent employees who were on vacation.

He was typically assigned to 270 Park Avenue in Manhattan, which houses the headquarters for JPMorgan Chase. All permanent employees who work in the building must pass a federally mandated background check, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation closely monitors this requirement for strict compliance.

José was interested in becoming a permanent employee. Based on his work history and performance, he was first on the list of temp-to-permanent workers. An opening came up and José underwent a background check, which revealed an old drug conviction for which José served a four-year prison sentence.

Hiring for Attitude D

He wasn’t hired for the permanent position—and was disqualified from working in the building. He lost his temp job, too.

José sued, alleging that he was qualified for the job based on his experience.

The court dismissed his claim. It reasoned that while José was qualified for the temporary position because it didn’t require the background check, he wasn’t qualified for the permanent job based on his inability to pass the background check. (Crespo v. Harvard Cleaning Services, No. 13-CV-6934, SD NY, 2014)