Changes To The Freelance Law In New York City

In the beginning of 2017, New York City adopted The Establishing Protections for Freelance Workers Act.  The law provides that a company must:

  • Provide a written contract to a freelance worker for services of $800 or more,
  • All payments to a freelancer must be paid on a timely basis and in full; and
  • Prohibits retaliatory action against a freelancer for exercising his or her right under the law.

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The “Snowflake Test”: Is It Legal?

snowflakeWhile it is not uncommon for employers to give assessment tests to potential job candidates, one U.S. company has caught the eye of the media for its unusual vetting tool. Kyle Reyes, Chief Executive Officer of The Silent Partner Marketing, a public relations firm located in Hilliard Mills, Connecticut, created the controversial “snowflake test” as a means of weeding out candidates who don’t fit the company’s culture – specifically, “overly sensitive, liberal candidates that are too easily offended.” However, despite the significant publicity and, in some cases, praise, others have fiercely criticized the assessment and called into question the ethics and legality of it.

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Another Court Settlement in Unpaid Intern Case

Recently, American fashion designers and former child actresses Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have moved to settle a lawsuit brought by a former intern. In September 2015, Shahista Lalani filed suit against the the sisters, known collectively as the Olsen twins, in New York Supreme Court, alleging that she worked 50-hour weeks without pay or college credit. Ms. Lalani filed a “proposed class action to join other unpaid interns” who had worked for the Olsen twins. She requested the court grant damages, minimum wage, and overtime. In 2012, Ms. Lalani worked for the clothing line “The Row,” a high-end fashion line owned by the Olsen twins.

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New York Audition Notices Spark Employment Law Concerns

Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported on discrimination in casting calls for the Broadway hit “Hamilton.” Although specifying race, age, and gender is legal in audition calls, the Actors’ Equity Association, a union organization, generally checks the audition notices before going out. The notices for Hamilton, which posted from late 2015, were not reviewed by Actors’ Equity. They have sparked discussion over the formalities and procedures to avoiding discrimination in audition calls.

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Bloomberg Settles Overtime Wages Case in New York

Recently, the New York Post reported that Bloomberg, a financial media company, has agreed to pay $3.2 million in a settlement for overtime wages.  The Manhattan federal class-action lawsuit was initiated by customer service employees who claimed they were not compensated for overtime.

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Significant Employee versus Independent Contractor Developments

All companies must now be familiar with the Labor Department’s new rules defining independent contractor versus employee status for several reasons.  In addition to working for principals as an independent worker, many rep firms hire employees to assist in their businesses.  When are workers employees? When are they contractors?  These are differences in definitions that have huge legal implications.

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NYC Employers Fined for Not Allowing Employees Sick Leave

In 2014, New York City Mayor de Blasio signed into effect the Earned Sick Time Act, and later approved further amendments that would offer employees greater protection by expanding the Act.  Recently, companies such as Best Buy and FedEx have been fined for not complying with the law that went into effect in April 2014.

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The Zika Virus and Workers’ Compensation

The Zika virus, which was originally identified in 2015, has spread to approximately 33 countries.  Many of the countries are in the Americas.  Recently, the World Health Organization has announced an international health emergency because it is now thought the virus is linked in causing microcephaly.

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Attorney General Schneiderman Announces $46,000 Settlement with C&S for Firing Employees Injured on the Job

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced on July 22 of last year a settlement of $46,000 with C&S Wholesale Grocers for terminating employees who were injured on the job. The settlement followed an investigation by the Attorney General into C&S Wholesale Grocers, popularly known as “C&S”, the largest wholesale grocery company in the country.

The investigation followed an appeal in which the Attorney General’s Office successfully represented the Worker’s Compensation Board.

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New York City Calls Uber Drivers Freelancers

New York Uber execs are off the hook; the drivers they employ are now considered freelancers, not employees, thanks to a statement by Meera Joshi, chairwoman of New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission.

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