How freelancers can prevent discrimination

Increasing numbers of people in Tennessee participate in the gig economy. While the work may be flexible, employment law offers freelancers almost no protection from discrimination and harassment. Antiquated laws currently ignore the needs of independent contractors, but freelancers can take the proactive steps of carefully vetting potential clients and using discriminatory behavior clauses in contracts.

Some quick internet searches about a company could bring up certain red flags. For example, the GlassDoor website publishes company reviews by employees. An abundance of negative reviews about racial discrimination or sexual harassment might indicate how someone at the company is likely to interact with an independent contractor.

For added protection, some freelance professionals include a values policy in their marketing materials that affirms their commitment to working with people who value diversity. People who hold prejudices against certain groups might avoid such freelancers.

With a discriminatory behavior clause, a freelancer can build in consequences for mistreatment by the client. The clause could state that the independent contractor can quit the project and bill for hours already worked if the client engages in discriminatory behavior or sexual harassment. Such a clause could provide protection from a breach of contract action if the freelancer must abandon a client due to poor treatment.

A worker directly employed by a company has the benefit of multiple federal and state laws meant to offer protection against discrimination because of sex, race, religion, age or disability. However, an employee or freelancer concerned about workplace discrimination could ask an attorney for advice after experiencing harassment, disparate treatment or wrongful termination. The lawyer could gather evidence and approach the employer with the complaint. Legal representation might prompt the employer to remedy the problem or pay a settlement.

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