NYC Freelancer Rights Lawyer

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In today’s gig economy, more and more people are choosing short-term, contract work over full-time or permanent employment. Commonly referred to as freelancing, this style of working appeals to millions of Americans who believe it gives them a greater sense of freedom and control over their work and finances.

Freelancing can be a wonderful way to earn a living, but it’s not without risks. One of the primary appeals of permanent employment is the guarantee of a weekly or bi-weekly paycheck, benefits such as health insurance and disability, and a steady stream of work.

Protect Against the Risks of Freelance Work

Most seasoned NYC freelancers will tell you, this type of work can feel a bit like feast or famine. Workflow often vacillates between being virtually non-existent and too much to handle.

Many freelancers have the entrepreneurial spirit and adaptability to manage these peaks and valleys, but certain risks inherent to freelancing are more difficult to plan for and manage. Clients who refuse to pay for work performed are one such example. Failure to pay freelancers is a problem in every state and city across the nation, but it’s a particularly prevalent issue in New York City.

The legal team at Joseph & Norinsberg LLC has helped countless NYC freelancers obtain the compensation they deserve in a timely manner. If you are a freelancer and a client has failed to pay you for work performed or is retaliating after you complained about the failure to pay, you may be entitled to compensation for any damages suffered, above and beyond what you are owed for the work performed. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

What is the Freelance Isn’t Free Act?

In response to this very real—and disturbingly common—risk, the New York City Council enacted the Freelance Isn’t Free Act in 2017. The law, which provides multiple rights and protections to freelancers, is primarily aimed at reducing non-payment, delayed payment, and partial payment, and protection from retaliation.

Any individual who is hired as an independent contractor to provide services in exchange for compensation is considered to be a freelance worker under the Freelance Isn’t Free Act. The person or entity hiring the freelancer can be any individual or business that is not a government entity.

On May 15, 2017, the law went into effect, establishing and enhancing the following protections for freelancers:

  • The right to a written contract;
  • The right to receive full payment on time; and
  • The right to protection from retaliation.

Under the law, persons and entities in violation can be penalized, and those who suffer damages have a right to seek compensation. Repeat offenders can be penalized to the tune of up to $25,000. An experienced NYC employment law attorney can help you determine how to proceed.

What Are Your Rights Under this Freelancer Payment Protection Act?

The primary rights under the Freelancer Payment Protection Act include the right to timely payment, the right to freedom from retaliation, and the right to file a complaint.

  • Timely Payment—The freelancer must receive full payment on or before the date stated in the contract. If no date is stated in the contract, full payment must be received within 30 days of the completion of work.
  • Mandatory Contracts—When a freelancer is hired to perform work valued at more than $800, they must use a contract or face fines for failure to do so.
  • Protections from Payment Agreements—Hiring parties are prohibited from making a deal with freelancers to accept partial payment in exchange for timely payment.
  • Right to File a Complaint—Freelancers can file a complaint of nonpayment with the Office of Labor Policy Standards. Once the hiring party has received notification of the complaint, they have 20 days within which to respond.
  • Freedom from Retaliation—The hiring party is prohibited from retaliation against the freelancer for exercising their rights under the Freelance Isn’t Free Act. This includes penalizing or threatening the worker, and threatening unwarranted legal action.
  • Double Damages—Freelancers are permitted to seek and collect double damages and attorneys fees, and violators can be penalized up to $25,000.

The Freedom Isn’t Free law applies to NYC sole proprietors (freelancer, gig, or contract workers) earning 1099 income who are owed more than $800 for work performed over a period of four months or less.

If you are a freelancer whose client is refusing to pay, it is in your best interest to file a complaint with the Office of Labor and Policy Standards and seek immediate legal counsel from an attorney with extensive experience in this area of employment law.

If the individual or entity does not respond to your complaint within 20 days, you will receive “rebuttable presumption,” which means the judge should presume that the hiring party is in violation of the law.

In addition to notifying the hiring party of your complaint, the Office of Labor and Policy must also create a Court Navigation Program, which provides you with information to support you through the legal process.

Contact Joseph & Norinsberg LLC Today

If you are entitled to compensation for work performed and your client is refusing to pay, the skilled legal team at Joseph & Norinsberg LLC can help. We have protected the rights of countless NYC workers and our attorneys have an impressive track record of obtaining full compensation for our clients in a timely manner. With few to no legal protections in the past, freelance workers who were victims of non-payment typically just fell through the cracks. But that is no longer the case. Do not wait on payment for one more day. Contact Joseph & Norinsberg LLC today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

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Our NY Employment Law Case Results

A lawsuit proved employer misappropriation of tips. Court awarded employees unpaid tips, damages, fees after bench trial.


Wage and hour settlement on behalf of residential superintendents.


After getting the defendant to agree to mediation, settled for a class of construction workers who were not paid their overtime properly.

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