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You may hear a lot about “employee’s rights” in Los Angeles, but what if you aren’t technically an employee? As flexible and remote work options become more prominent throughout the U.S., the number of people working as freelancers or independent contractors is growing. A freelancer works for him/herself, with no “boss” or employer. With the budding new workforce of freelancers comes new problems and questions – especially when it comes to worker rights. Explore your rights as a freelancer in California with help from an employment attorney.
First, recognize the major differences between being an employee and a freelancer in California. The definition of a freelancer in California, as of April 2018, is someone who does not have to obey the control or direction of an employer, who performs work outside the hirer’s main business, and who usually engages in an independently established occupation. Many employers intentionally or unintentionally misclassify employees as freelancers. Make sure you’re a freelance worker in California before studying up on your rights.
If you are in fact a freelancer, employee laws and rights will generally not apply to you. Since you are technically your own boss (or the owner of your own business), no employer must legally give you certain things, such as lunch breaks or overtime pay. It is largely up to you to decide your rules of engagement at work. California’s wage and hour laws, unemployment insurance requirements, and most anti-discrimination laws do not apply to freelancers. You also cannot file a claim for wrongful termination.
You might say goodbye to many employee rights when you become a freelancer, but that doesn’t mean you shed all your protection. State laws that prohibit sexual harassment and other forms of harassment still apply to freelancers. In other words, freelancers still have the right to a work environment that’s free from harassment. The person who uses the independent contractor cannot harass the freelancer in any way, shape, or form. If you do experience harassment in a work capacity as a freelancer, you have a right to file a complaint against the perpetrator. Other rights you have include:
You may need an employment lawyer’s help understanding and identifying your rights as a freelance worker in California. Freelance and independent work can be lucrative for scheduling flexibility, being your own boss, and making your own rules – but it comes at the expense of several major employee rights. Make sure you know what you’re giving up before you change from employee to freelancer. If you have any questions about your rights and responsibilities as a freelancer, talk to a local attorney. A lawyer can help you protect what rights you do have, and file lawsuits on your behalf, as necessary.