May 22, 2012

Speaker Silver Statement on
Unpaid Freelance Workers

It is unconscionable that a growing number of hardworking New Yorkers, who are hired as "freelancers," are not being paid for the professional services they have provided. Many of these independent contractors are being ripped off by unscrupulous clients.

For the last several years, the struggling and transitioning economy has forced more and more New Yorkers to become freelancers in order to earn a living, pay their bills, and raise their families. It is disturbing that so many of them are not receiving payment for their work.

To compound this injustice, these freelancers have very little recourse against those who refuse to pay them. Under current law, the state Labor Department is unable to effectively seek compensation on their behalf because, as freelancers, they are not considered employees and therefore do not fall within the department's jurisdiction.

Last year, the Assembly passed a bill (A.6698-A) which will give the Labor Department the teeth it needs to crack down on unprincipled clients, impose penalties, and help recover the money owed to freelancers. It is also under consideration again this session.

Cheating a worker out of their earnings is intolerable and an egregious violation of human decency. This can not continue. Freelancers, like everybody else, deserve to be paid for their labor, and when they are not, they should be confident that the state will be there to help correct the injustice.