Issue: Can an employee of a temporary staffing agency sue the company where he’s performing services for negligence?
General Rules: 1) The temporary employee is the employee of the staffing agency. 2) Workers compensation prevents suits against employers beyond the scope of Workers Comp claims (except Woodson claims involving willful and wanton behavior). 3) A temporary staffing employee is not treated as an employee of the firm/company where he is performing services. This is usually in the contract between the temp company and the firm/company that uses the temp.
Facts in Gregory v. Pearson (appellate decision): Mr. Gregory worked for temp company. Gregory was assigned to work for Cleveland County’s Solid Waste Management. While there he was run over by Cleveland County truck due to negligence of the driver. The contract between staffing company and county was that Gregory wasn’t an employee of County. If not an employee of the county, then the county is a 3rd party that can be sued outside of workers compensation.
Holding: the Employee can sue the company/firm where he is assigned because he’s not an employee.*
Repercussions: Without this ability to have an agreement as to who bears responsibility for workers compensation & benefits, the company using the temp may have to incur the cost. This could eliminate the need for temporary agencies.
*This is an appellate decision and could be heard and overturned by the N.C. Supreme Court
W. Kirk Sanders, Attorney
Sanders Law Firm, PLLC
326 N. Spring Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27101