Credit: Michael I Schiller/Reveal

The temp industry is about to get some unwanted attention from the federal agency in charge of cracking down on job discrimination.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which investigates workers’ complaints around the country, announced a new focus on temp workers and the agencies that employ them in its five-year enforcement plan.

Jenny Yang is chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Jenny Yang is chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.Credit: EEOC

“The Commission adds a new priority to address issues related to complex employment relationships and structures in the 21st century workplace, focusing specifically on temporary workers, staffing agencies, independent contractor relationships, and the on-demand economy,” the plan states.

It comes after a series of stories by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting about temp agencies discriminating by race, gender and age. Many will provide whatever employers request, whether it’s a preference for white workers, or Latino men, or young women. Some use code words, like “heavies” for men or “country boys” for whites. Black workers are often screened out.

In a “Reveal” radio show earlier this year, Commission Chair Jenny Yang said the problem was growing with the expansion of the temp industry.tempgrowth

The country’s temp workforce has risen to a high of nearly 3 million workers a month.

“We do see significant job discrimination continuing, and one of the concerns we have about the growing temporary workforce is that those workers are now some of our most vulnerable workers because they can’t be assured they have a job the next day,” Yang said.

Will Evans can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @willCIR

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Will Evans was a senior reporter and producer for Reveal, covering labor and tech. His reporting prompted government investigations, legislation, reforms and prosecutions. A series on working conditions at Amazon warehouses was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize and won a Gerald Loeb Award. His work has also won multiple Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards, including for a series on safety problems at Tesla. Other investigations exposed secret spying at Uber, illegal discrimination in the temp industry and rampant fraud in California's drug rehab system for the poor. Prior to joining The Center for Investigative Reporting in 2005, Evans was a reporter at The Sacramento Bee.