Expanded Rights for Independent Contractors in the Workplace

As of October 11, 2019, certain non-employees (e.g., independent contractors, vendors, or other persons providing services) became covered under provisions of the New York State Human Rights Law. This means that it is now unlawful for an employer to permit the occurrence of discrimination or harassment of independent contractors in the workplace. Employers may be responsible to the non-employee when the employer knew or should have known that the non-employee was subjected to discrimination or harassing misconduct and the employer failed to take immediate and appropriate action.

Similarly, as of January 11, 2020, the New York City Human Rights Law has also expanded coverage and protections to independent contractors and freelancers. Independent contractors and freelancers in New York City are now protected the same as employees, including the right to receive a reasonable accommodation and bring a claim for discrimination and harassment in the workplace. This goes beyond the protections of the New York State Human Rights Law.

In addition, New York City employers with fifteen (15) or more workers are required to provide annual sexual harassment prevention training to any independent contractor or freelancer that works more than eighty (80) hours in a calendar year and for at least ninety (90) days. Independent contractors do not need to complete the training at every workplace, but they need to provide proof of completion of at least one sexual harassment prevention training per year. Therefore, companies are now responsible for either providing the annual training to its independent contractors or receiving proof that the independent contractor was trained by another company.

Please contact us to review your independent contractor agreements to ensure adequate notice and complaint procedures are included.


Written by Julie Sitler and Desiree Saad

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