California is being sued by industry group NPPA on behalf of independent journalists over Assembly Bill 5. It’s claimed the bill will also affect freelance photographers, potentially meaning they have to “become employees of their clients.”
The lawsuit was announced on Tuesday by the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Inc and was filed by the National Press Photographers Association. The legal battle is taking place in a Los Angeles federal court. The suit claims the bill will “devastate” the lives of freelancers and is entirely unconstitutional.
ASJA president Milton C. Toby, JD, said:
We have no choice but to go to court to protect the rights of independent writers and freelance journalists as a whole. The stakes are too high, and we cannot stand by as our members and our colleagues face ill-conceived and potentially career-ending legislation.
AB-5 was signed into law back in September and is due to become enforced next month. Under the bill, freelancers and independent workers would become protected by minimum wage laws, etc., but the NPPA will interrupt the relationships many freelancers have with their clients, given that jobs are often on an ad hoc basis.
The issues the NPPA has taken with the law are in regards to its “professional services” exemption. While covered under the exemption law, freelancers are limited to just 35 “submissions” for one client per year, which could be disastrous for photojournalists. It should be noted that videographers aren’t included in the exemption, so if the bill is to be brought into law, it’s essentially illegal for any videographer to work freelance.
The NPPA anticipates up to a 60-75% loss of income for some of its clients should the bill come into effect. Read more about the issue here.