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What Rights Do NYC Freelancers Have?


Today, many people enjoy the flexibility of doing freelance work. There are many great reasons to become a freelancer, such as the independence you can gain from it, but deciding whether or not it’s right for you can be difficult. Of course, there are also many reasons why someone would want to be committed to being a full-time employee for one employer. While many may know the rights afforded to employees in New York City, they may not understand what rights freelancer workers have.

There are many important rights that freelancers have to help ensure they’re being treated fairly and with respect. Learn more about what rights NYC freelancers have.

Who Is Considered a Freelancer in New York City?

According to New York City’s Freelancing Isn’t Free Act, a freelancer is someone hired or retained as an independent contractor to provide services for compensation. While freelancers may provide services to a specific company, they aren’t employees of the company and are still considered self-employed. However, knowing your employment classification can sometimes become difficult, and employers may try to misclassify you to suit their own interests. It’s important that you understand what your role in the company is and what you deserve because of it.

New York City Freelancer Rights

Don’t assume that being a freelancer means that you give up many of the rights that regular employees have. Freelancers in New York City have various rights that protect them and help them receive the compensation they worked for. Knowing the freelancer rights that you’re owed can help you fight for what you deserve.

Written Contracts – Under the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, freelancers have the right to written contracts when the contract is worth more than $800, which includes all agreements between the freelancer and the hiring party that total $800 or more in a 120-day period. Contracts must detail the work the freelancer will complete, what the hiring party will pay, and the date the freelancer will be paid. Freelancers and the hiring party must keep copies of the contract.

Timely Payments – The Freelance Isn’t Free Act requires that freelancers be paid on or before the payment date stated in their contract for all their completed work. If there is no specific payment date, the hiring party must make the payment within 30 days after the freelancer completes the work. 

Filing Complaints – If a freelancer’s rights are violated, they have the right to file a complaint with the Office of Labor Policy & Standards. 

Freedom from Discrimination – Since January 11, 2020, freelance employees and independent contractors have been protected from discrimination and harassment under the New York City Human Rights Law. This protects freelancers from discrimination based on various protected classes, including age, race, gender, religion, and disability. It also required that freelancers receive reasonable accommodations for things such as disabilities and religious accommodations. 

Freedom from Retaliation – If freelancers do file a complaint, they have the right to be protected from retaliation for doing so. Retaliation may include penalizing, threatening, blacklisting, and more.

Protect Your Rights with Brown Kwon & Lam

It’s essential that everyone understands what employee rights are afforded to them, regardless of how they’re classified, so they know what they deserve. At Brown Kwon & Lam, we know that it can often be difficult to protect your rights in the workplace and that some employers may try to violate these rights. We have years of experience helping employees throughout New York City protect their rights and get fair treatment at work.

If your rights have been violated, contact our employee rights attorneys today for help.