Direct and Indirect Employment Under Title VII

Source: Charlotte Alexander, Georgia State University College of Law, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2016-16, 2016

From the abstract:
This short essay, prepared for the New York University School of Law’s 68th Annual Conference on Labor, outlines the law of direct and indirect employment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The essay then notes confusion in the case law surrounding indirect employment, where a plaintiff seeks to extend Title VII liability to an entity other than her nominal employer. Many courts appear to be importing the common law agency test from the direct employment context, where there is a dispute over whether a worker is properly an independent contractor or an employee. This mixing of separate standards effectively requires plaintiffs to prove a direct employment relationship as to all defendants, eliminating the possibility of an indirect, de facto, or joint, employment relationship. The essay ends by advocating for courts to consider the economic realities of the relationship between a worker and her putative employer(s) in assessing claims of indirect employment.