I Filed a Freelance Isn’t Free Act Claim in NYC — Here’s How It Works


  • Enacted May 2017, FIFA supplies freelance employees in NYC with pay and contract protections.
  • Freelance author Andrew Ward shared his and different freelancers’ FIFA experiences.
  • The course of entails submitting a criticism, working with a caseworker, and informing the shopper.
  • See extra tales on Insider’s enterprise web page.

I’ve labored as a freelance author for publications and types for over 5 years, and I take into account myself one of many lucky ones to have only a few incidents with late funds.

My luck just lately modified when a shopper started lacking funds relationship again to November 2020.

Thankfully, I stay in New York City, the place the Freelance Isn’t Free Act (FIFA) exists.

FIFA is much from good, however immensely useful. While usually claims can get slowed down in months of correspondence, the protections offered by FIFA are simply one in all a few American freelancers have.

What is FIFA?  

Passed in October 2016 and enacted May 15, 2017, FIFA is touted as the primary invoice to supply freelance employees with pay and contract protections.

In 2019, knowledge from the town, gig financial system job website Upwork, and advocacy and useful resource group the Freelancers Union reported that 34%, or 1.three million metropolis employees, freelanced over the earlier 12 months. 

FIFA establishes protections for New York City-based freelancers. The three parameters lined are: 

  • The proper to a written contract for any work totaling $800 or extra
  • Timely and full cost inside 30 days of completion of the job, until said in any other case in a contract
  • Protection from retaliation, together with denying a freelancer their rights and future work, in addition to threatening, intimidating, disciplining, harassing, or discriminating the person

Rafael Espinal, government director of the Freelancers Union, famous that the state courtroom would decide particular person instances.

“The client is liable to double damages and attorney fees to the freelancer if the judge finds that the freelancer has the right to payment,” Espinal instructed Insider. Penalties underneath FIFA cap at $25,000.

The invoice has its grey areas concerning particular parameters — for instance, Espinal mentioned he believes FIFA protects non-New York City freelancers doing enterprise with city-based employers as effectively, however the subject “continues to be a subject of discussion.”

He added that FIFA laws is incrementally rising in America. In 2020, Minneapolis handed a freelancer safety ordinance that went into impact on January 1, 2021.

How submitting a FIFA declare works

Before submitting a FIFA criticism, I stopped working with the shopper. Despite placing a halt to our working settlement, they continued to publish my bylined work by means of third-party distribution offers.

After making a number of makes an attempt through electronic mail to get well cost from my shopper, I filed my paperwork with the town’s Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) on March 31, emailing Freelancer@dca.nyc.gov with the finished kind discovered on the DCA web site.

Several hours later, I received an electronic mail confirming that my criticism was acquired and an consumption quantity was assigned. Due to the excessive case quantity, my criticism would take roughly 10 to 12 weeks to obtain an task, the e-mail learn. 

Tech PR skilled Teena Touch instructed Insider she’s turned to FIFA twice since shifting to New York City from Los Angeles in April 2013. 

Having labored in the area since 1999, Touch mentioned missed and withheld funds are widespread in public relations — the battle usually stems from shoppers believing that the freelancer did not obtain their targets. 

While the aim of reaching vital publications just like the New York Times could not at all times come to fruition, “I did the work,” she mentioned, including, “The work we agreed upon was delivered.” 

Before FIFA’s passage, Touch relied on an company based mostly in the Midwest specializing in amassing for advertising and PR companies. The invoice’s passage allowed her to inform shoppers she’d file with FIFA somewhat than proceed outsourcing the work. 

The first FIFA expertise stemmed from an accounting software program discrepancy, she mentioned. After telling the shopper she’d file a FIFA declare, Touch mentioned she was paid in full quickly after with none criticism filed.

The following 12 months’s criticism moved additional in the method. Unlike present wait occasions, the DCA processed Touch’s case shortly — inside “a couple of days” she was assigned a caseworker, she mentioned. 

She had a cellphone interview with the caseworker, asking the kind of tasks she labored on and if she had any recordsdata to assist her declare. She submitted supporting paperwork, together with a zip file of labor she carried out for the shopper. “I basically took all the work I did, what was in the contract, and the results of everything, and just put it in one large file,” Touch mentioned. 

After finishing “about 75%” of the method, she mentioned the shopper deposited all the cash due into her checking account. 

She’s grateful for the assistance offered by the DCA and the Freelancers Union, a group she’s turn into affiliated with since shifting to the town and that is additionally helped her discover inexpensive healthcare.  

Amanda Rue, a freelance marketing consultant and founding father of sexual-harassment coaching service The Shift Work Shop, used FIFA final April. 

Rue mentioned her shopper started to overlook funds a few months earlier than the pandemic hit the town. She tried contacting the employer, together with sending a formal letter, however no funds got here. The debt ultimately totaled over $2,000.  

As the pandemic went on, the corporate said it would not concern funds till June. Shortly after, Rue started proceedings with the DCA to make sure she established a paper path ought to the matter ever should go to courtroom. This was her first expertise submitting a FIFA criticism, after studying of the choice by means of the Freelancers Union. 

Rue’s course of took longer than Touch’s. She acquired affirmation of her criticism after a week, she mentioned. “And then I heard nothing,” she added. Following up on the second and third month in, she nonetheless heard nothing. 

Two extra months handed earlier than she adopted up once more, this time looking for to file a retaliation criticism stemming from unflattering social-media posts and a shut-down electronic mail handle. She claims the shopper created a false narrative about her in a bid to shun her from the business.

Rue acquired a response 4 days after submitting the retaliation criticism, with the DCA sending a copy to the hiring occasion with 20 days to reply. The interval handed with none response from the shopper or DCA.

“Maybe it was summer and COVID, who knows,” Rue mentioned.

In October, she acquired a letter from the DCA stating that the shopper failed to reply and acquired paperwork from the DCA certifying her state of affairs. The paperwork would assist set up her case if the difficulty proceeded to small-claims courtroom.

The shopper additionally acquired the willpower, with cost coming to Rue earlier than small-claims courtroom grew to become wanted. 

The course of could have taken months, however she mentioned she would do it once more if wanted. “That’s my money,” Rue mentioned, including that FIFA was “a great service.”

In late April, I acquired two checks for work accomplished in 2020. The closing two funds, totaling $875, are imagined to arrive in the approaching days, based on the corporate.

On April 29, that very same individual requested for added article pitches from me. I have not despatched any.



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