Freelance Workers Have Rights
New York City is a diverse city with millions of independent, creative, successful, and talented freelance workers which range from graphic artists, musicians, writers, website developers and coders to drivers and cleaners. Recently, engaging freelancers, or otherwise legally known as “independent contractors”, has become a popular practice by employers. Start-ups in various industries including technology and art have propped up in New York City and fueled the “gig-economy” for companies like Uber, Lyft, and Handy. The New York City employment lawyers at Polat Law Group have experience representing freelance workers.
As a result of this growth and innovation, there has been a substantial need for workers who possess skills and talents desired by start-ups. To protect such freelances, New York City passed the Freelance Isn’t Free Act (FIFA) which became effective on May 15, 2017. The law protects independent contractors from wage theft by providing that anyone who hires an independent contractor for services where the agreement between them has a value of $800 or more, must have the agreement in writing. A hiring party is any individual or business, other than a government entity, who hires a freelance worker. Even where the combined value of the contract between the freelancer totals $800 over a period of 120 days, the agreement must be in writing.
As a result of the new law, the independent contractor agreement must include at a minimum:
- (1) the name and address of both the hiring party and the independent contractor;
- (2) a list of services that will be provided and the value of those services;
- (3) the rate of pay and method of compensation (i.e. check, cash, direct deposit); and
- (4) the date on which the payment is due if it is based on some type of calculation.
New York freelancers have complained of issues regarding collecting payment upon completion of a project. Consequently, the FIFA requires the hiring party to pay the independent contractor on or before the completion date of the contract/project. However, if the contract states a date the payment is due, the independent contract must be paid within 30 days after the work is completed.Retaliation Prohibited
Importantly, it is illegal for anyone hiring an independent contractor to retaliate, threaten, blacklist, discriminate, harass, deny a worker future work or threaten to take legal action against a freelancer for exercising their rights under FIFA.Right to File a Lawsuit
Any freelance worker who feels this law has been violated may bring a civil suit against the hiring party within 2 years of the alleged violation. Any violations can result in an award of damages to the freelance worker as well as a civil penalty of up to $25,000 to the hiring party.
If you are a freelancer and have been subject to violations of the new law, discriminated against, harassed, or misclassified, contact the New York City employment attorneys at Polat Law Group to protect your legal rights. The attorneys at Polat Law group represents freelancers in protecting their rights against discrimination and harassment and making sure they are compensated for their work properly and on time.