The Freelance Isn’t Free Act Protects NYC Independent Contractors

Independent Contractors in New York City Receive Protection from Wage Theft

Unpaid wage attorneys at Leeds Brown Law, P.C. represent workers in New York City when they are victims of wage theft. We have handled nearly every kind of employment and wage-hour case including misclassification, minimum wage and overtime violations, workplace discrimination and tip theft.

We can assist with cases under federal laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as well as New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) and New York Labor Law. New York City also has local regulations which, in many instances, provide workers with more rights and protections than both the state and federal ones. In November 2016, the Mayor signed into law what is known as “The Freelance Isn’t Free Act” which goes into effect in May 2017. This act, the first of its kind in the nation, provides freelance workers, or independent contractors, with protections from wage theft.

If you are an independent contractor or freelancer in New York City and a hiring party owes you wages, consider contacting Leeds Brown for a free consultation. You may be able to file a civil claim or an administrative complaint with the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) to recover the wages owed as well as other monetary damages.

Who Does the Act Protect?

The Act protects workers who accept jobs on a freelance basis. As defined by the Act a freelancer is a single person, whether or not incorporated or employing a trade name who is hired or retained as an independent contractor by a party to provide services in exchange for compensation.

Estimates place the number of freelancers in the New York metropolitan area at nearly 4 million. What are some common jobs performed by freelance workers? Some popular freelance areas of work include:

  • graphic design
  • writing
  • marketing
  • social media
  • brand development
  • virtual assistant
  • translating
  • web design
  • photography
  • tutoring
  • customer service
  • web developing
  • app developing
  • SEO expert
  • public relations
  • CAD design
  • data entry
  • video production
  • transcribing
  • illustrating
  • blogging
  • architectural design

In a survey conducted by the Freelancers Union, nearly 70 percent of freelancers nationwide report problems getting full payment for their services. Being self-employed in New York City may get a little easier for a lot of people.

How Does the Act Protect Freelance Workers in New York City?

The Act provides several areas of protection for New York City’s freelance workers.

Contractual: The Act requires a written contract for a freelance project or multiple projects worth $800 or more in a 4 month period. The contract must specify a date of payment, and if not, payment must be made within 30 days after completion of the work.

Filing a Claim: The Act allows a freelancer to file a complaint with the DCA or file a civil action to recover his or her fee.

Retaliation: The Act has a provision that prohibits a hiring party from retaliating against a freelancer for attempting to enforce his or her rights to recover fees and other damages under the Act. This prohibition includes threats, harassment, denial of future work, discrimination and intimidation.

Damages: Damages for a successful claim under this Act vary. For failure to provide a written contract and failure to pay, you may receive your fee plus statutory damages. If you can prove that there were unlawful payment practices occurring, you may be entitled to receive double damages and injunctive relief. If you experience unlawful retaliation, you may be awarded additional monetary relief.

If a particular hiring party demonstrates a pattern and practice of violating the Act and failing to pay freelance workers, the New York City Corporate Counsel can bring an action against the party and penalize them up to $25,000.

Attorneys Can Help Freelancers Protect Their Rights

If you are one of the millions of freelance workers in New York City, you are lucky. You now have an opportunity to receive groundbreaking protection from wage theft. One way to take advantage of the Freelance Isn’t Free Act is to ensure you understand when you have the right to a contract, what the terms of that contract must entail and what course of action you should take when you don’t receive your fee for work you perform. Having unpaid wage lawyers representing your interests at all stages can go a long way toward receiving positive results. Don’t forgo your right to recover compensation. You work hard. Make sure you get paid for your time, energy and resources.

Contact Us

Leeds Brown lawyers have spent decades helping clients recover wages and damages when employers violate wage-hour and other labor laws. Employees, independent contractors, and freelancers have rights to wages, and we have a thorough understanding of all laws that apply to workplace rights – federal, state and local ones. We handle cases involving:

  • Unpaid minimum wages
  • Unpaid overtime
  • Employee misclassification
  • Independent contractor misclassification
  • Sexual harassment
  • Employment discrimination
  • Unlawful retaliation
  • Tip theft

When you need representation from a firm with experience, skill, and dedication to the workers of New York City, contact Leeds Brown. Someone is here to take your call 24/7 so contact us today at 1-800-585-4658.