Religious institutions, nonprofits, and even political campaigns could be targeted by political opponents through a new freelance-worker protection bill just passed by the NYC City Council.
The bill exposes anyone who hires independent contractors for more than $800 in services to civil penalties and liability for various violations, including the failure to provide written contracts or pay for the services in question within 30 days. The bill allows for double penalties, civil penalties of up to $25,000 per violation if the City gets involved, and liability for the plaintiff worker’s legal fees if they win in New York City’s plaintiff-friendly and notoriously anti-religion and anti-business courts.
The imposition of these requirements on every user of services (except for governments, including foreign governments, of course) is a direct attack on free enterprise and, really, any and every form of economic activity not performed by The State.
In addition, the bill provides for legal redress through the City’s Office of Labor Standards and the State Supreme Court which sits in each of the City’s five boroughs.
The problem is that these burdens will likely force law-abiding businesses and every other entity to hire more independent contractors (and pay each one less, to avoid the law’s burdens), or move their activities outside the City altogether.
Meanwhile, the unscrupulous actors out there will likely move their business to the illegal immigrant dark corners. A cynic could be accused of suspecting the real agenda here is to make it easier for illegals working “off the grid” to get work from lawbreaking businesses, and of course this wouldn’t be perfect without it coming at the expense of the lawful citizenry, and even obedient visa holders.
So who’s hurt? The people of New York City (or its suburbs) trying to make a living in the gig economy. And every church, synagogue and private school which can’t readily afford a permanent workforce, but now will be vulnerable to lawsuits and harassment from anyone claiming a grievance. The bill could easily become a new legal mechanism for the harassment and persecution of politically or socially disfavored religions, businesses and others.