Great news for NYC Freelancers!
In a truly historic moment, New York City became the first city in the nation to protect freelance workers against client nonpayment on October 27, 2016.
There are so many stories from Freelancers about not getting paid, being owed thousands, and having to close down because of this. But finally there is legal action able to be taken, and it favors the Freelancer.
Below are most of the important factors in this law. Note that if a Freelancer does take their client to court and win, not only does the client have to pay all the legal costs, but in some cases, double those costs, as well as damages.
Being a Freelancer myself, I have had my experience with this, and am happy to see that there is finally something I can do about this.
So take a look and see what you think. Hopefully other cities will follow suite.
The term “freelance worker” means any natural person or any organization composed of no more than one natural person, whether or not incorporated or employing a trade name, that is hired or retained as an independent contractor by a hiring party to provide services in exchange for compensation.
The term “hiring party” means any person who retains a freelance worker to provide any service.
§ 20–928 Written contract required.
Whenever a hiring party retains the services of a freelance worker and the contract between them has a value of $800 or more, either by itself or when aggregated with all contracts for services between the same hiring party and freelance worker during the immediately preceding 120 days, the contract shall be reduced to writing. Each party to the written contract shall retain a copy thereof.
b. The written contract shall include, at a minimum, the following information:
1. The name and mailing address of both the hiring party and the freelance worker;
2. 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
3. The date on which the hiring party must pay the contracted compensation or the mechanism by which such date will be determined.
§ 20–929 Unlawful payment practices.
Except as otherwise provided by law, the contracted compensation shall be paid to the freelance worker either:
1. On or before the date such compensation is due under the terms of the contract; or
2. If the contract does not specify when the hiring party must pay the contracted compensation or the mechanism by which such date will be determined, no later than 30 days after the completion of the freelance worker’s services under the contract.
b. Once a freelance worker has commenced performance of the services under the contract, the hiring party shall not require as a condition of timely payment that the freelance worker accept less compensation than the amount of the contracted compensation.
§ 20–930 Retaliation.
No hiring party shall threaten, intimidate, discipline, harass, deny a work opportunity to or discriminate against a freelance worker, or take 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 this chapter, or from obtaining future work opportunity because the freelance worker has done so.
§ 20–931 Complaint procedure; jurisdiction of director.
Complaint. A freelance worker who is aggrieved by a violation of this chapter may file a complaint with the director within two years after the acts alleged to have violated this chapter occurred. The director shall prescribe the form of the complaint, which shall include, at a minimum:
1. The name and mailing address of the freelance worker and of the hiring party alleged to have violated this chapter;
2. A statement detailing the terms of the freelance contract, including a copy of such contract if available;
3. The freelance worker’s occupation;
4. A statement detailing the alleged violations of this chapter; and
5. A signed affirmation that all facts alleged in the complaint are true.
§ 20–933 Civil action
Cause of action. 1. Except as otherwise provided by law, a freelance worker alleging a violation of this chapter may bring an action in any court of competent jurisdiction for damages as described in subdivision b of this section.
b. Damages. 1. A plaintiff who prevails on a claim alleging a violation of this chapter shall be awarded damages as described in this subdivision and an award of reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.
Violation of section 20–928.
(a) A plaintiff who prevails on a claim alleging a violation of section 20–928 shall be awarded statutory damages of $250.
(b) A plaintiff who prevails on a claim alleging a violation of section 20–928 and on one or more claims under other provisions of this chapter shall be awarded statutory damages equal to the value of the underlying contract for the violation of section 20–928 in addition to the remedies specified in this chapter for the other violations.
Violation of section 20–929
In addition to any other damages awarded pursuant to this chapter, a plaintiff who prevails on a claim alleging a violation of section 20–929 is entitled to an award for double damages, injunctive relief and other such remedies as may be appropriate.
Violation of section 20–930
In addition to any other damages awarded pursuant to this chapter, a plaintiff who prevails on a claim alleging a violation of section 20–930 is entitled to statutory damages equal to the value of the underlying contract for each violation arising under such section.