What is the Freelance Isn’t Free Act?
The Freelance Isn’t Free Act (“FIFA”) is a New York City law that allows freelancers and independent contractors in New York City to receive double the value of their work if the hiring party refuses to pay, underpays, or pays late. FIFA also awards attorney’s fees and costs to prevailing freelancers.
What are FIFA’s specific requirements?
FIFA requires full payment to freelancers within 30 days of completing their work. FIFA also requires hiring parties to provide a written contract if the freelancer performs at least $800 of work over a four-month period. FIFA also forbids hiring parties from offering freelancers less money in exchange for quicker payment, and FIFA forbids retaliation against freelancers who pursue claims for non-payment.
Do I qualify as a “freelancer” under FIFA?
FIFA defines who qualifies as a “freelance worker” very broadly. You qualify as a freelancer entitled to special benefits under FIFA as long as you are hired to provide any sort of service in exchange for compensation. You qualify even if you have a company, so long as the company has no other employees. Only salespeople, attorneys, medical professionals, and government contract work are excluded. In sum, FIFA covers nearly all individuals hired as independent contractors for pay.
What are my rights under FIFA?
Under FIFA, hiring parties must provide freelancers and independent contractors in New York City with a written contract for work worth at least $800. The contract must list the freelancer’s and the client’s names and addresses, list the services and their value, describe the rate and method of compensation, and include a payment deadline.
If the client does not pay within 30 days of the completion of the services, freelancers can sue. The court can award freelancers up to double the stated amount in the contract, even if the client claims the services were incomplete or not satisfactory. Freelancers can also file a complaint if they do not receive a written contract.
When did FIFA go into effect?
May 15, 2017. FIFA applies to any contract entered into after this date.
How long do I have to file a claim?
Freelancers have six years to file a complaint for non-payment, underpayment, or an act of retaliation. Freelancers have two years to file if the basis of the complaint is the failure of the hiring party to provide a written contract. The sooner you file, the better chance you stand of recovering money quickly.
What if the work I performed wasn’t in New York City?
According to the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, FIFA may still apply to you depending on the overall circumstances of the work, including whether some portion of the work was performed in New York City, whether you were hired in New York City, and the extent of the hiring party’s operations within New York City.
Are there any alternatives to filing a lawsuit?
Yes, but they are not as lucrative. As an alternative to a lawsuit, freelancers can file a complaint with the city’s Office of Labor Standards. However, the Office of Labor Standards has limited enforcement rights and cannot award double damages. To recover twice the contract value, you must file a lawsuit.
Do I need to pay my attorney?
FIFA awards attorney’s fees to successful claimants. All of our initial consultations are free. If you decide to hire us, aside from our initial fee, which is usually just $100, you pay nothing unless we win.
How do I begin?
The easiest way to start is to fill out our intake survey, which takes less than 5-10 minutes. We will contact you within three business days to tell you if we can help.
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Helping Freelancers Get Paid
Freelancers are entitled to double the contract amount if the hiring party refuses to pay, underpays, or pays late.