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CA Temp Employee Getting Paid Less and Less

by Lisa
(Rancho Cucamonga, CA , San Bernardino County)

I live CA and have been a temp worker for Robert Half Intl. since August of last year. I have been on various assignments with them, all with different rates of pay, though it seems they are offering me less and less because they know I am desperate for work.

In my current assignment (which is scheduled to end in July), I am covering a lady on maternity leave. I am also going to school full time in an LVN program that will have me graduating in May 2014.

My question is this, when my current assignment ends, will I qualify for unemployment benefits if I do not take another low paying assignment?
I have 2 kids under the age of 4 and with my pay getting lower with each assignment I take, I can't afford to keep them in day care full time. I just want to know what my options are if any. Thank you for your time.

Chris's Response

Hi Lisa,

If you do not accept work that is unsuitable, as in a low paying assignment for something not related to your past experience, or training, you still need to be prepared for what a temp agency may respond to the unemployment department with to garner a finding you voluntary quit, or refused a temporary job assignment, from your current employer .. the temporary staffing agency.

So, to combat the employer's response effectively, you need to be prepared with proof that goes to an issue involving unemployment laws about temp employers in your state .. to bring home the good, in cause.

Refusing a temporary assignment does not necessarily end the "temp" employment relationship.

But to quit, or refuse an assignment, you better be able to PROVE why the assignment would be, or became "unsuitable work" to you specifically.

Working for a temp agency isn't exactly like working for a permanent type employer because the very nature of your job now, accepting a series of temp assignments, which basically makes you a leased employee, presents a problem for Temporary staffing agencies.

I do not know of many that won't fight all unemployment claims, given the nature of the employment can have the continual risk of being a "lack of work" claim.

One way the fight back hard against UI benefits, even if the claim is a legitimate lack of work is if you refuse an
assignment. Depending on the state, they may respond to the notice of your UI claim by saying you voluntarily quit an assignment, or refused a new assignment that was also an offer of suitable work.

Problems arise for claimants however, when they first accept an unsuitable assignment. Suitable work and what makes a job unsuitable is an individual thing that falls within the scope of some criteria relevant to the term suitable work. It could be your prior job experiences, training, education, the amount of pay (sometimes relevant to prevailing wage data) where you look for something substantial enough to show you have/had good cause to quit, or refuse .. and literally proof that can convince the administrative law agency (a state unemployment department) you had a reasonable reason to quit, or refuse.

But, acceptance of an unsuitable job, or temp assignement can become any employee/claimant's undoing.

In your case, I seriously doubt there's a verbal or written agreement with Robert Half Int'l that guarantees any work they may offer will pay you a consistent wage. But that's where choice comes in and for purposes of collecting unemployment, a temp employee needs to know the criteria used to determine suitable work, so they can refuse a job, or a temp assignment that falls beneath a bar you're responsible for seeing adhering to and .. documenting, in case you need proof for the unemployment department.

Additionally, going to school full-time can be a problem with your UI eligibility. When going to school and collecting benefits, it's important to remember that under almost all circumstances .. a willingness to look for and accept suitable work will trump any efforts you make toward continuing your education because it raises a conditional issue of you being able and available to work while going to school.

EDD will investigate your eligibility via an A&A issue when you disclose you're also going to school. Don't try to sidestep this issue, but instead, prepare for it by understanding the issue .. and any potential exceptions you can use.

Here is California's Guide on Voluntarily Quitting a Job with, or without

Also, California does not have a special provision for temp workers .. but the stance of the EDD on temp employment could also be found in it's precedent decisions.

Hope this makes sense and that I think your plan may cause problems you could avoid.


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Dec 16, 2015
Same Experience in Minnesota
by: MN Temp

Hello CA,

This is an old thread however I have been experiencing this in Minnesota since 2013 and still going on. I was with Robert Half as well. I am still trying to get out of this endless loop with them. Employers here love it! They think it is fantastic and have become really reckless with it. Falsifying performance to cover up racism, ageism and other disgusting practices such as manipulating overtime and even using temp employees to commit fraud and then letting them go. All I have to say is get out and stay out. I can't afford an attorney so I am praying I don't become homeless. Best of luck to you!

May 14, 2013
UE Hearing
by: Anonymous

Hearing with UE today. Decision in a few days. The biggest learning curve is document your actions. Thank you for the links and insight. My decision to filing an appeal was for principal.This incident will be on record in the event the owners continue not to pay their clients for goods purchased. Preparing to show if a reasonable person would quit for good cause is very suggestive, but the employer has to show they are being compliant in rules of terms. The UE officer was very professional and to the point. Kept the meeting focused and on task. One of the suggestions for anyone going through the appeal process is to understand the setup. I was prepared with job title, description and had a closing statement prepared. I thoroughly benefited from your posts. I will give you the outcome when I know.

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