On November 16, 2016, NYC Mayor De Blasio signed into law the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, a local law (No. 1017-2015) establishing protections for freelance workers.

The law, amending Title 10 of the N.Y.C. Administrative Code, establishes and enhances protections for freelance workers, including the right to receive a written contract, the right to be paid timely and in full, and the right to be free from retaliation.  The law creates penalties for violations of these rights, including statutory damages, double damages, injunctive relief, and attorney’s fees.  Highlights of the new law, which applies to private employers and takes effect on May 15, 2017, include the following:

  • Contracts between a hiring party and a freelance worker valued at $800 or more must be reduced to writing and contain, at a minimum, the name and mailing address of both the hiring party and the freelance worker; an itemization of all services to be provided by the freelance worker; the value of the services to be provided pursuant to the contract and the rate and method of compensation; and the date on which the hiring party must pay the contracted compensation or the mechanism by which such date will be determined.
  • The contracted compensation must be paid to the freelance worker either on or before the date such compensation is due under the terms of the contract, or if the contract is silent, not later than 30 days after the completion of services.
  • Hiring parties are prohibited from threatening, intimidating, disciplining, harassing, denying a work opportunity to, or discriminating against a freelance worker, or taking any other action that penalizes a freelance worker for, or is reasonably likely to deter a freelancer worker from, exercising or attempting to exercise any right guaranteed under the new law, or from obtaining future work opportunity because the freelance worker has done so.
  • A freelance worker who is aggrieved by a violation of the new law may file an administrative complaint with the City within two years after the acts alleged to have violated the law or a civil action against the hiring party within two or six years after such acts (depending on whether the claim is for failure to have a contract in place, failure to make a payment, or retaliation), but the freelance worker must make an election between administrative and court remedies.
  • A freelance worker who prevails on a claim under the new law can recover, depending on the nature of the claim, the contracted value of the services, double damages, reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, injunctive relief, statutory damages, and “other such remedies as may be appropriate.”
  • The City may commence a civil action against a hiring party engaged in a pattern or practice of violations of the new law and seek up to $25,000 in civil penalties.
  • The new law does not limit a freelance worker’s right to bring common law or other legal claims against the hiring party, including for breach of contract.
  • The law will take effect 180 days after the Mayor signs it and will apply only to contracts entered into on or after that effective date.
  • The City’s Office of Labor Standards will be authorized to take any actions necessary to implement the law, including the promulgation of rules.

We will keep you posted on developments under this new City law.

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Photo of Allan Bloom Allan Bloom

Allan Bloom is the co-chair of Proskauer’s Labor & Employment Law Department and a nationally recognized litigator and advisor who represents employers, business owners, and management in a broad range of employment and labor law matters. As a litigator, Allan has successfully defended…

Allan Bloom is the co-chair of Proskauer’s Labor & Employment Law Department and a nationally recognized litigator and advisor who represents employers, business owners, and management in a broad range of employment and labor law matters. As a litigator, Allan has successfully defended many of the world’s leading companies against claims for unpaid wages, employment discrimination, breach of contract and wrongful discharge, both at the trial and appellate court levels as well as in arbitration, before government agencies, and in private negotiations. He has secured complete defense verdicts for clients in front of juries, as well as injunctions to protect clients’ confidential information and assets.

As the leader of Proskauer’s Wage and Hour Practice Group, Allan has been a strategic partner to a number of Fortune 500 companies to help them avoid, minimize and manage exposure to wage and hour-related risk. Allan’s views on wage and hour issues have been featured in The New York Times, Reuters, Bloomberg and Fortune, among other leading publications. His class-action defense work for clients has saved billions of dollars in potential damages.

Allan is regularly called on to advise operating companies, management companies, fund sponsors, boards of directors and senior leadership on highly sensitive matters including executive and key person transitions, internal investigations and strategic workforce planning. He has particular expertise in the financial services industry, where he has litigated, arbitrated, and mediated disputes for more than 20 years.

A prolific author and speaker, Allan was the Editor of the New York State Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Journal from 2012 to 2017. He has served as an author, editor and contributor to a number of leading treatises in the field of employment law, including ADR in Employment Law (ABA/Bloomberg BNA), Employment Discrimination Law (ABA/Bloomberg BNA), Cutting Edge Advances in Resolving Workplace Disputes (Cornell University/CPR), The Employment Law Review (Law Business Research, U.S. Chapter Author), and The Complete Compliance and Ethics Manual (SCCE).

Allan has served as longtime pro bono counsel to Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and The Public Theater, among other nonprofit organizations.  He is a past Vice Chair of Repair the World, a nonprofit organization that mobilizes volunteers and their communities to take action to pursue a just world, and a past recipient of the Lawyers Alliance Cornerstone Award for extraordinary contributions through pro bono legal services.

Allan is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and has been recognized as a leading practitioner by Chambers since 2011.