Business Owners Beware of the New York City Freelance Isn’t Free Act

There are many benefits to working with independent contractors / freelancers instead of hiring full time employees: flexibility, reduced legal risk, no payroll costs, no commitments, no benefits, and no hassle. As an added bonus, you can likely haggle them down to accept less on an invoice because, after all, they likely need the money, right? Not exactly. Business owners beware of the stringent protections in place to protect freelancers in New York City. This article briefly discusses the New York City Freelance Isn’t Free Act (“FIFA”).

The Freelance Isn’t Free Act

On May 15, 2017, the New York City Freelance Isn’t Free Act took effect and established enhanced protections for freelance workers:



If a freelance worker files a complaint with New York City Department of Corporate Affairs (DCA) Office of Labor Policy & Standards (OLPS), the DCA will notify you.

You must respond to the notice of complaint in writing within twenty (20) days. If you fail to do so and if the freelance worker files a civil action in court, the judge will presume that you committed the violations.

FIFA’s Penalties

Under FIFA, it is illegal to penalize, threaten, or blacklist freelance workers because they exercised their rights. The law establishes severe penalties for violations of these rights, including statutory damages, double damages, injunctive relief, and attorney’s fees. That means your business could potentially owe the freelancer twice the amount of the unpaid invoice!

Where there is evidence of a pattern or practice of violations, the New York City Corporation Counsel–New York City’s “in-house” lawyers–may bring civil action to recover a civil penalty of not more than $25,000. FIFA also requires OLPS to receive complaints, create a court navigation program, and gather data and report on the effectiveness of the law.


If your business regularly utilizes freelancers, take the time to understand the Freelance Isn’t Free Act and its potentially draconian punishments. Of course, paying your undisputed invoices in a timely fashion is the simplest way to avoid the crosshairs of the Freelance Isn’t Free Act. But if you do become involved in a dispute over a freelancer’s unpaid invoices be certain that any such settlement agreement you enter into to resolve it accounts for these rights and is drafted accordingly.

* * *

Russo Law LLC deploys unparalleled training and modern technology to guide investors, businesses, and executives efficiently through corporate, contractual, commercial real estate, and litigation issues.

Call (+1-929-262-1101) or email today to learn more.

*This blog post is for informational purposes only. It is not an offer to represent you and does not provide, nor does it intend to provide, legal advice. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based upon any information on this website. Neither the presentation of such information nor your receipt of the same creates an attorney-client relationship. This blog is legal advertising. Although this blog post intends to provide accurate and helpful information, it makes no representations, claims, promises, guarantees, or warranties, express or implied, including the warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, Furthermore, Russo Law LLC does not assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed on this website, nor represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights.

Leave a Reply