• New York City First in the Nation to Pass Bill Protecting Freelancers from Wage Theft
  • June 26, 2017 | Authors: Gregory B. Reilly; Adam G. Guttell; Melanie M. Ghaw
  • Law Firms: Martin Clearwater & Bell LLP - New York Office; Martin Clearwater & Bell LLP - Newark Office
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently signed into law the Freelance Isn’t Free Act (“Bill”) which aims to protect freelance workers (“freelancers”) against wage theft. The Bill is the first-of-its-kind in the nation and provides certain freelancers with legal protections and rights in a sector that was largely unregulated. The law becomes effective May 17, 2017, and it will apply only to contracts entered into on or after the effective date.

    Among the several provisions in the new law, freelance services valued at $800 or more be reduced to writing with terms to include an itemization of services, the value of services to be provided, the rate and method of compensation, and the date on which payment is due or, if unspecified, the mechanism by which the date of payment will be determined.

    The new law requires the hiring party to pay the freelancer in full and on time or, if no payment date is specified, the hiring party must pay no later than 30 days following completion of the freelancer’s services. The Bill prohibits hiring parties from retaliating against freelancers who exercise or attempt to exercise their rights under this law. Depending on the violations alleged, the new law allows aggrieved freelancers to enforce these rights by filing an administrative complaint with the City or a civil action against the hiring party.

    The Freelancer’s law also provides remedies for freelancers who prevail on a claim and includes civil penalties against hiring parties who violate this law. A hiring party who refuses to provide a written contract under the law would be liable for $250, and if the hiring party violated other provisions of the law, damages would also include the full value of the contract. A hiring party who fails to pay the freelancer in full and on time would be liable for double damages. A hiring party found to have engaged in a pattern or practice of violations under this law may be liable for up to $25,000. The new law also provides successful plaintiffs with entitlement to reimbursement for attorneys’ fees and costs.