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What You Need to Know About the New Independent Contractor Laws in New York

pen on an independent contractor agreement

Understanding Your Rights as a Non-Employee

In the United States, federal laws protect employees from discrimination, harassment, and unfair employment practices. They are guaranteed certain rights such as minimum wage, workers’ compensation, and accommodations for disabilities. Ultimately, their employer is prohibited from treating them differently based on certain protected classes.

In the United States, the following classes are protected against discrimination:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Nationality
  • Religion
  • Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions)
  • Mental or physical disability
  • Age (40 and older)
  • Citizenship status
  • Genetic characteristics

New York expands these classes to include marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, political activities, prior arrests or criminal convictions, and more. If you are an independent contractor, however, you may have experienced employers’ attempts to use the difference in your employment status as an excuse to avoid providing you with certain benefits. They may even discriminate or harass you in the workplace (or allow that treatment to occur) because they believe you are federally unprotected. Fortunately, recent changes to New York laws may mitigate this issue.

3 Major Changes to New York Human Rights Laws

Now, as an independent contractor, you will no longer be exempt from many of the rights afforded to traditional employees, and you can hold your employer accountable when they fail to comply.

In the last 2 years, New York has made 3 major changes to the scope of the City and State Human Rights Laws:

  1. New York State Human Rights Law in 2018: protections against sexual harassment extended to include non-employee service providers
  2. New York City Human Rights Law on September 12, 2019: bill allows freelancers and independent contractors to file complaints alleging discrimination or harassment based on protected classes (e.g. race, nationality, sexual orientation, age, etc.)
  3. New York State Human Rights Law on October 13, 2019: protections against all forms of unlawful discrimination or harassment expanded to include independent contractors

Effective in January of 2020, the New York City and State Human Rights Laws will protect independent contractors when the company or supervisor knew (or should have known) about the discrimination or harassment but did not take immediate corrective action. Furthermore, many expect that employers will be required to provide sexual harassment training for independent contractors. However, legislators are still updating certain details, and all members of the New York workforce should stay up to date in order to understand their new rights and protections.

Put Decades of Experience on Your Side—Contact Our Firm Today

Have you been harassed or discriminated against in your New York workplace? If you are a non-employee, you now have city and state laws on your side. Legal protections, however, may not be enough, especially when you face employers who stand to benefit from your loss. Our lawyers at Schwartz Perry & Heller LLP have decades of experience representing employees and non-employees alike in a wide variety of industries. With our team on your side, you can hold your employer accountable.

Call (646) 490-0221 or schedule your consultation online to speak with our dedicated attorneys. We look forward to fighting for your rights.

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