WORK WITH US
Staffing Agency Did Not Fire Temporary Employee, It Simply Ended Her Assignment
In July 2013, Remx Specialty Staffing hired Vanessa Young. Remx is a temporary staffing company that places its employees in temporary positions. In August 2013, Remx placed Young at Bank of the West. The Bank claimed Young acted in a threatening manner. On August 16, 2013, a Friday, Young had a phone call with a Remx representative about the delivery of Young’s paycheck. Young claimed that the representative “basically” told her that she was “fired” and further “implied” that the firing was from Remx, not from the Bank. The Remx representative wrote an email that day documenting that her message to Young was “not to return back to Bank of the West due to her violent and threatening behavior as a precautionary measure and safeguard for Bank of the West.”
Undeterred, Young reported for work at the Bank on Monday, August 19. A different Remx representative escorted her out of the Bank. Young testified this Remx representative “basically implied” that Young was “fired” from Remx. In an email sent later the same day, a Remx representative told Young, “As discussed today over the phone, your project has ended effective today, Monday, August 19th at BOW. You cannot return …to the work site unless instructed to do so.” Young was paid on Friday, August 23, 2013, for her work during the week of August 12; and was paid Friday, August 30 for working on Monday, August 19. These pay dates were in accordance with Remx’s regular payroll schedule. Young did not have any other work assignments with Remx.
Young sued Remx based on Remx’s alleged failure to timely pay final wages to a discharged employee in violation of Labor Code Section 201.3(b)(4) which reads “If an employee of a temporary services employer is assigned to work for a client and is discharged by the temporary services employer or leasing employer, wages are due and payable” immediately.
Remx moved for summary judgment and argued that Young was not discharged from employment with Remx and was only discharged from her assignment at the Bank. The trial court agreed and granted summary judgment for Remx. Young appealed.
The California Court of Appeal examined the Remx employee handbook and found that a temporary employee was only fired from Remx through an “express” notification, and the end of an assignment is not the termination of the employment relationship with Remx.
Young’s primary evidence was her testimony that Remx representatives “implied” and “basically told” her that she was fired. This is not express notice, especially when compared to the email evidence Remx provided, which only mentioned the termination of the Bank assignment. The Court of Appeal held that the discharge at issue here was simply a discharge from her current assignment.
Young next argued that the term “discharge” in Labor Code Section 201.3(b)(4) also applies to discharges from a temporary assignment. The Court of Appeal disagreed, stating as a premise that to be discharged from employment there must be an employment relationship that a discharge would end. Here, there is no employment relationship between a temporary employee and their temporary “employer.”
Young v. RemX Specialty Staffing, 2023 WL 3331378 (Cal. Ct. Appeal).
Note: Labor Code 201.3(b)(4) is among a group of Labor Code statutes that do not apply to public entities. (Labor Code Section 220(b).) The interesting thing about this case for public entities, however, is that the Court of Appeal noted, albeit without any analysis, that a temporary employer does not have an employment relationship with a temporary placement employer. That finding is contrary to both: 1) the California Labor Commissioner’s position that temporary employee staffing agencies and temporary employers are joint employers of a temporary employee; and 2) the California Supreme Court’s opinion in Cargil v. Metropolitan Water District (2004) that for CalPERS purposes, a temporary employee of a staffing agency is a common law employee of the placement employer.