New York City Amends Human Rights Law to Extend Protections to Freelancers and Independent Contractors

In recent years both New York State and New York City have actively amended their anti-discrimination laws to expand worker protections.  For example, both the state and city have passed laws requiring most employers to distribute anti-sexual harassment policies and to provide anti-harassment training to their workforces.

This trend continued on September 12, 2019, when the New York City Council passed a law, Int. 0136-A, that expands the scope of the New York City Human Rights Law.  Specifically, this law will ensure that freelancers and independent contractors are protected by the Human Rights Law and will allow them to file complaints with New York City Commission on Human Rights when they face harassment or discrimination based on their race, gender, sexuality, religion or any other protected category.  In addition, prior to this amendment, the New York City Human Rights Law applied only to employers that employed four or more employees. The amendment expands coverage of the New York City Human Rights Law to businesses that employ or engage at least four employees or independent contractors combined.

One interesting note about this ordinance is that an earlier version would have made franchisors strictly liable as joint employers for harassment committed by employees of franchisees.  Various trade organizations successfully lobbied the city council to remove this provision.

The bill has been sent to Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is expected to sign it into law shortly. 

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.