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Brooklyn and New York City Staffing Agencies: Workers Be Wary

Staffing agencies in Brooklyn and New York City have a long history of poor compliance with state and federal employment statutes and labor laws, including laws relating to overtime pay.  Just last week, a consent decree ended a disability discrimination lawsuit against one of the top ten largest staffing agencies in the U.S., Staffmark Investment LLC.  The EEOC field suit on behalf of an independent contractor who was terminated from a site because she had a prosthetic leg and the contracting company was worried that she would accidentally hurt herself or others while at work. The EEOC claimed that this adverse action was a blatant violation of the ADA and an Illinois District Court agreed, awarding the women $100,000 in economic damages.  This consent decree will require Staffmark to report employee discrimination complaints at two of its Chicago locations directly to the EEOC for the next two years, strengthen antidiscrimination policies, as well as increase antidiscrimination training for managerial staff.

Staffing agencies are also notorious for their misclassification of employees as independent contractors in order to save on the expenses associated with proper classification of their workforce as employees. This misclassification, although in strict violation of the FLSA, is often purposefully done in an attempt to shirk financial obligations to employees. Independent contractors are not eligible for minimum wage, overtime pay, worker’s compensation benefits, and are not protected by antidiscrimination statutes. The result is that companies and staffing agencies unlawfully benefit at the expense of misclassified independent contractors by not having to pay for the expense associated with proper classification.

For instance, healthcare staffing agencies, commonplace in Brooklyn, place “hourly” or “contract nurses” in hospitals around the city as independent contractors.  Similarly, information technology (IT) staffing agencies provide hundreds of desktop, network and systems support workers to companies throughout the boroughs, particularly within the financial industry. These IT staffing agencies usually give their “contractors” different titles including associate, analyst, team lead, or tech in functional areas such as desktop support, help desk support, systems administration, systems implementation, systems maintenance, network operations, network administration, network implementation, network maintenance, network support, cable installation and maintenance, fiber optics installation and maintenance, and telecommunications system administration staff.  Many, if not most, of these workers are employees and should be receiving overtime pay among other benefits and legal protections.

If you work for a staffing agency in Brooklyn or the NYC area as an independent contractor, you should know that staffing agencies often qualify as joint or single employment entities under the FLSA. Do not allow yourself to be taken advantage of or mistreated because of employer misclassification; contact an attorney who can help you assert your legal rights.



Christopher Davis is an experienced employment litigator specializing in class actions, overtime wage recovery, discrimination, whistleblower retaliation, and Wall Street bonus disputes. Before entering private practice, Mr. Davis served as an Assistant District Attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office where he prosecuted violent crimes as a member of the Sex Crimes Unit.

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