For businesses in California and throughout the nation, temporary workers translate into cost savings.  For one thing, those businesses don’t have to pay temp workers medical or dental benefits, vacation and sick pay or contribute to their retirement plans.  In addition, employers who need workers with particular skill sets can hire skilled temporary workers, saving on training costs.  Finally, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, “temp workers generally earn a lower hourly wage than their directly-hired counterparts in the same occupation.”

It’s understandable that employers are focused on the bottom line, and it’s reasonable that they would occasionally hire temp workers to save money.  All too often, however, employers game the system, skirting established law to exploit temporary workers and maximize cost savings.  Temp workers, typically happy just to bring home a paycheck, tend not to push back or complain.  That’s a mistake.

Microsoft’s Big “Permatemp” Gamble

In the late 80’s and early 90’s, Microsoft began hiring thousands of temporary workers.  The $20 billion tech giant was looking for a way to save money.  The new workers were required to wear orange badges to distinguish them from permanent workers (who wore blue badges).

The arrangement worked out well for Microsoft, which retained many of these workers for years.  The trouble began when those “temp” workers tried to take advantage of the company’s employee discount stock purchase program. Microsoft said “no,” arguing that, as temp workers, they didn’t qualify.

In 1992, the workers decided to fight back, filing a class-action lawsuit which argued that, given their length of time with the company, they were not in fact temporary workers and were therefore being denied benefits to which they were entitled.  The lawsuit wound its way through the courts for eight years.  At the end of the day, the workers won.  Microsoft paid a $97 million settlement, which amounted to an average settlement of $10,000 for each of the plaintiffs.

What Is the Law Governing Temporary Employees?

Most temporary workers are hired by staffing agencies, which then ferret those workers out to client companies.  Many of the legal issues which surround temporary workers have to do with this nebulous arrangement.  When violations of worker rights (such as discrimination) occur, for example, who is liable, the staffing agency or the client firm?  Are temporary workers “employees” of those client firms, or “independent contractors” who work for the staffing agency?

Are Both Staffing Agencies and Client Companies Liable for Discrimination?

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), both staffing agencies and client firms can be sued for discrimination:

“Staffing firm workers are generally covered under the anti- discrimination statutes.  This is because they typically qualify as “employees” of the staffing firm, the client to whom they are assigned, or both.   Thus, staffing firms and the clients to whom they assign workers may not discriminate against the workers on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability (emphasis added).”

Essentially, what this means is that client firms can’t defend discriminatory actions with the argument that they are not the employer.  In the same way, if a client asks a staffing agency for “only white women in their 20’s” to fill sales positions during the holiday season and the agency complies, both the agency and the client firm are liable under anti-discrimination statutes.

Are Temporary Workers Employees of the Client Firm or Independent Contractors?

Many of the abuses which temporary workers suffer are due to misclassification of their employment status.  Workers who are classified as employees of the client firm have rights which don’t apply to independent contractors who work for the staffing agency.

When a client firm controls a worker’s hours, wages or working conditions (for example, telling him what his weekly work schedule is), that worker should be classified as an employee even if the staffing agency has classified him as an independent contractor.  As such, the worker is entitled to a number of employee rights, including legally-compliant meal and rest breaks and paid overtime.  When such misclassification occurs, employees can sue the client firm for back wages and penalties.


The laws covering the rights of temporary workers change frequently.  For example, in 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a landmark new law, AB 1897, that holds corporations in the state accountable when workers hired using labor contractors are cheated out of wages or forced to work in unsafe conditions.

All employees have rights, including temporary workers.  If you are a temporary worker and suspect your rights are being violated, you need to take action and seek competent legal assistance.  The attorneys at Aiman-Smith & Marcy have won millions in settlements on behalf of California employees.  They will work as team and in close collaboration with you to defend your rights.  If you need help because your employer is violating those rights, contact us today.

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Lisseth Bayona


Education and Background

I am a Los Angeles native and daughter of Salvadorian immigrants. From an early age, my parents instilled the value of hard work and education in me and my two siblings. Their perseverance enabled each of us to graduate from college and earn professional degrees.

My interest and commitment to workers’ rights have roots in my parents’ experiences as undocumented workers in Los Angeles. Witnessing the challenges they faced inspired me to pursue a career where I can help individuals confronted with similar struggles. To help someone in those moments is very satisfying. I love connecting with people and learning about their stories. I believe that dignity in the workplace is a right of all workers, not a convenience or privilege reserved for employees of a certain race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Legal Experience

I received my J.D. from the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law. While there, I served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Patrick J. Walsh of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where I drafted a criminal judicial opinion. Also, while at Gould, I served as an extern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. As a Criminal Division Extern, I had the opportunity to work closely with a trial team of Assistant U.S. Attorneys on a money laundering case which further sparked my interest in litigation.

Personal Interests

In my free time, I enjoy urban vegetable gardening, traveling, and spending time with my nephew and niece. I also love to spend time at San Onofre Beach learning to surf, although admittedly, I am not very good.



Hallie L. Von Rock

Attorney (SBN 233152)

Education and Background

I moved to the Bay Area from Washington after graduating high school. I had been accepted to UC Berkeley through a program where I could defer for two years while getting my California residency and attending community college, which was significant since I was paying for college on my own. I began working for Randall Aiman-Smith and Reed Marcy in 1996 as an office manager while taking night classes. My first foray into the legal world was soon after starting at the firm when I was ready to transfer to UC Berkeley. Rather than accepting my resident status, the Board of Regents took the position that California residency required a student to be in California “two calendar years.” Randall and Reed took up my case with the same verve as they helped their actual clients and I got the chance to comb through the UC Berkeley library to read their codes and regulations to support my position. In that experience, I learned what is was like to feel helpless against a big organization and then to have dedicated attorneys in my corner to take up my cause.

After a break to pursue my major in art history, I went to UC Hastings College of Law and continued working with Randall and Reed. Having worked together now for over 25 years, we have a unique ability to work collaboratively and finish each other’s sentences. I have strived throughout my career to make a difference in the lives of our clients. At the end of the day, if I am helping someone to get compensation for losses they suffered, then I know that all the work put into a case has been worth it.

Legal Experience

I have extensive experience in civil litigation and class action cases, including conducting discovery and depositions, calculating damages analysis, preparing motions for certification, writing appellate documents, and overseeing claims administration. We have handled several class actions against retailers where plaintiffs claimed they were forced to purchase clothing to wear to work and were not compensated for these purchases, including against Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, Uniqlo, Dollar Tree, and Ross. Recently, I was trial counsel in a defamation claim against Bank of America on behalf of a former employee who claimed the Bank blacklisted her with future employers. The jury found Bank of America liable, including for punitive damages.

Personal Interests

Aiman-Smith & Marcy has sponsored me in the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon. When I race, I often wear a “Rockstar Ronan” shirt to support research for childhood cancer through The Ronan Thompson Foundation.


University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1999

Hastings College of the Law, University of California, J.D., 2004

Randall Aiman-Smith

Abogado (SBN 124599)

Aiman-Smith & Marcy. Oakland consumer fraud attorneys.

Educación y antecedentes

Fui afortunado. A pesar de no haber terminado la escuela secundaria o la universidad, pude -aunque con mucho trabajo- ser admitido y sobresalir en una de las mejores escuelas de derecho del país: La Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Berkeley. Mientras estuve allí, tuve el privilegio de ser editor de la California Law Review y miembro del Moot Court Board, asesorando en la redacción de escritos y en la defensa de apelaciones a otros estudiantes. Después de salir de la escuela de derecho, en mis primeros años de práctica, enseñé la escritura legal y la defensa de apelación en la Universidad de California, Hastings College of the Law. También, a lo largo de los años, he sido presentador en eventos de educación legal continua.

Experiencia legal

He sido abogado durante 35 años. He dedicado mi práctica exclusivamente a representar a empleados, consumidores e inversores en los tribunales estatales y federales de primera instancia y en los tribunales de apelación. Me gusta ir a los tribunales por mis clientes y he llevado muchos casos con jurado en los tribunales estatales y federales.

¿Ejemplos? En 2010, fui la abogada principal, junto con los otros abogados del bufete, en el caso Williams v. Union Pacific Railroad donde, después de cuatro años de preparación, el bufete obtuvo un veredicto del jurado de 1.670.000 dólares para una empleada afroamericana. En Rivero v. Surdyka, fui el abogado principal en el juicio y la apelación de un caso de derechos civiles que duró 15 años, incluyendo un juicio completo y tres apelaciones al Noveno Circuito, concluyendo finalmente con una sentencia para los demandantes de más de 2.300.000 dólares. Estos casos ilustran el lema del bufete: compromiso – resultados. Hay que comprometerse con un caso, a veces durante mucho tiempo, para obtener el resultado que el cliente merece.

No siempre ganamos en el juicio. Cuando eso ocurre, el compromiso significa llevar el caso al siguiente nivel y recurrirlo. En el caso Rivero, antes mencionado, eso fue lo que ocurrió: el tribunal desestimó el caso -habíamos perdido- pero apelamos y conseguimos una victoria para nuestros clientes que mantuvimos a través de dos apelaciones más. Desde entonces, el bufete ha conseguido muchas victorias en apelación que reivindican los derechos de los empleados y los consumidores.

A lo largo de los años he sido abogado de los demandantes en numerosos casos individuales y acciones colectivas. Puede sonar cursi, o difícil de creer, pero después de todo este tiempo, y después de todas las grandes experiencias que he tenido, mi parte favorita de ser abogado es cuando consigo dar un cheque a mi cliente.



Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de California, Berkeley, J.D., 1986