Freelance Isn’t Free helped this freelancer break a creative agency’s cycle of chronic nonpayment

Apr 02, 2019

The second anniversary of the Freelance Isn't Free law is coming up on May 15, and we're celebrating with your success stories. To help us provide a pathway for more freelancers to use the law, share your experience at advocacy@freelancersunion.org.

This freelancer chose to remain anonymous.

When I freelanced for a creative agency in Manhattan, everything appeared to have gone smoothly. The owner of the agency was approachable and collaborative, and loved my work — which was as leading Creative Director on a pitch project. I maintained a good relationship with them and was sure I would be back.

But everything went wrong when I billed them. The owner of the company was apparently surprised, and claimed to be unaware of the terms I had negotiated with the hiring manager. As such, he wanted to renegotiate.

After sending my entire email paper trail with the hiring manager, as well as signed contracts, I tried to compromise. I revised my bill to offer a discount, and even removed the hours I’d spent on weekends and evenings. I had hoped that by meeting them in the middle I would still be considered for more opportunities, but I soon learned that this was part of a pattern.

The agency had a reputation for not paying, and I learned that several other freelancers had had similar experiences. I contacted lawyers, but didn’t want to pay between $400-$600 per hour to fight for what was rightfully mine. I was lost.

Then a friend suggested that I join Freelancers Union, which is where I found out about the Freelance Isn’t Free law. I filed a complaint through the Dept of Consumer Affairs through the site, and shortly after, checks from the agency started to arrive.

But it wasn’t quite over yet. While the agency was not willing to pay the full amount owed to me, I was able to take them to small claims court. They didn’t show up, but I won the case and was even awarded an additional sum for the interest.

I didn’t give up, and neither should you.

Share your Freelance Isn't Free success story at advocacy@freelancersunion.org.