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New City Council bill aims to protect freelancers, interns, contractors from discrimination

2019-09-12

The city’s anti-discrimination law would be extended to protect freelancers, independent contractors and interns under a City Council bill to be introduced Thursday.

The legislation would give the workers the same options to deal with harassment and discrimination based on gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, immigration status and other categories protected by the Human Rights Law.

Bill sponsor Councilman Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn) noted that freelancers and independent contractors have lacked key protections even as companies increasingly rely on them.

“Closing the loophole that left independent contractors without sufficient recourse for discrimination or harassment builds on the Council’s ambitious work to win protections for gig-economy workers,” Lander said in a statement.

Three quarters of incidents of harassment and discrimination against freelancers go unreported, according to the Freelancers Union.

“Freelancers represent an incredibly diverse group of workers from across all boroughs and backgrounds. Unfortunately, too many must go to work feeling unsafe and have no place where they can safely report violations,” Freelancers Union head Caitlin Pearce said in a statement.

Recent years have seen the City Council pass other measures aimed at helping freelancers, including the 2017 Freelance Isn’t Free Act to prevent freelancers from being ripped off.