Five Facts About The NYC Freelance Isn't Free Act

posted by Charles Joseph  |  May 22, 2019 09:53 AM [EST]  |  applies to New York

In 2017, New York City passed the Freelance Isn't Free Act, which offers some of the strongest freelancer protections in the country. Under the act, freelancers can file suit if their clients refuse to pay, underpay, or pay late. Here are five facts freelancers need to know about the Freelance Isn't Free Act.  

1. The Act Protects NYC Freelancers

The Freelance Isn't Free Act covers freelance workers who perform at least $800 of work for a client in a 120 day period. The act also defines a valid contract and states that clients must pay freelancers by the deadline in their contract or within 30 days of the completion of services. 

Under the act, freelancers can file suit for underpayment, nonpayment, or late payment for up to six years. Freelancers can also file a complaint for up to two years of they do not receive a valid contract.

2. Freelancers Can Receive Double Damages for Underpayment, Nonpayment, or Late Payment

The Freelance Isn't Free Act includes strong protections for freelancers who are paid late, don't get paid, or receive less than the contract amount. Under the act, freelancers can receive up to twice the value of their contract as damages. 

For example, a freelancer signs a contract to complete $10,000 of work but only receives $5,000 from the client. Under the Freelance Isn't Free Act, the freelancer can file suit for the unpaid $5,000, plus damages of $5,000, for a total of $15,000. 

3. Freelancers Without a Valid Contract Receive Additional Damages

If freelancers do not have a valid contract, the damages under the Freelance Isn't Free Act are even higher. Freelancers can receive statutory double damages if they do not have a valid contract. For example, a freelancer who provided $10,000 of work without a valid contract could receive an additional $10,000 in damages if they do not receive payment, for a total of $20,000. 

4. The Act Defines A Valid Contract

Contracts between hiring parties and freelancers in New York City must include the following to meet the Freelance Isn't Free Act guidelines:

  • The names and mailing addresses of the freelancer and client
  • An itemization of the services the freelancer will provide
  • The value of the services
  • A description of the freelancer's rate and method of compensation
  • The date when the client will pay the freelancer

Contracts that do not meet the requirements are considered invalid under the Freelance Isn't Free Act. If no payment date is listed, the act states the freelancer must receive payment within 30 days of completing the services listed in the contract.

5. Freelancers Can Also Receive Damages For Retaliation

The Freelance Isn't Free Act also includes strong retaliation and harassment protections. If a client harasses or retaliates against a freelancer for exercising their rights under the act, including threatening retaliation, the freelancer can receive the value of the contract for each act of retaliation.

For example, a freelancer completes $10,000 of work but does not receive payment. When the freelancer files under the Freelance Isn't Free Act, the client threatens to write a bad review and call other clients to badmouth the freelancer unless they withdraw the claim. The freelancer can receive $10,000 for the contract work, $10,000 in damages for nonpayment, $10,000 for the threatened bad review and $10,000 for the threat to call other clients, for a total of $40,000.

The Freelance Isn't Free Act Protects Freelancers

If your rights have been violated, an employment lawyer can help. Learn more about the Freelance Isn't Free Act or contact attorney Charles Joseph for a free consultation

Charles Joseph has over two decades of experience in employment law and independent contractor rights. He is the founder of Working Now and Then and the founding partner of Joseph and Kirschenbaum, a firm that has recovered over $120 million for clients.

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