On January 19, 2017, the New Jersey Assembly Labor Committee advanced a bill (A-4410) that would require written contracts between “freelance workers” and their hiring entity (“client”). Those contracts would need to include (i) an itemization of all services to be provided by the freelance worker; (ii) a description of how the freelancer worker’s compensation will be calculated; and (iii) the date on which the client will pay the freelance worker or the mechanism by which that date will be calculated. The bill defines a freelance worker as any “sole proprietor who is not an employee and who is hired or retained as a freelance worker by a client to provide services in exchange for compensation in an amount equal to or greater than $600.”
The bill would also require clients to pay freelancers the compensation earned according to those written work terms, and would require the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) to act as a regulatory agency regarding these work agreements. Specifically, the bill vests the NJDOL with the authority to bring “any legal action necessary, including administrative action,” to remedy alleged violations of the act and the power to assess liquidated damages against the client for violations of the act. Additionally, the bill provides that no client shall “threaten, intimidate, discipline, harass, deny a work opportunity to or discriminate against a freelance worker, or take any other action that penalizes a freelance worker for, or is reasonably likely to deter a freelance worker from, exercising or attempting to exercise any right provided under this act, or from obtaining a future work opportunity because the freelance worker has done so.”
Finally, the bill would allow aggrieved freelancers to file a complaint with the NJDOL and/or a civil action for damages, which may include attorneys’ fees, court costs, double damages, injunctive relief, and any other remedies deemed appropriate by the court.