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Ray, Employment lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 36381
Experience:  30 years in Employment law
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I am an independent contractor who does marketing, branding,

Customer Question

I am an independent contractor who does marketing, branding, and events in the hospitality industry. On Oct 26, 2015 I signed a 3-month contract to work on the launch of a new bar (R&V). At the time I was too busy with my other accounts to take on a new client, however, I agreed to work with R&V because a friend of mine (Sami) was desperate for money and said she would fulfill the obligations under the contract. So I noted in the contract with the client, that Sami would be working on the account and their primary point of contact. The client and I signed the contract.
On November 30, 2015 I sent the client an invoice (he was paying bi-monthly), and he said the company was unhappy with Sami’s work, that she hadn’t showed up for work or done the tasks she was assigned. The client asked that she be pulled off the account and asked to work with me directly. I told them I was too busy and if they wanted Sami off the account, we’d have to go our separate ways. So we agreed to go our separate ways.
The client never paid me for the second half of the month. I tried several times to collect the money, and then I cut my losses. I never paid Sami for those 2 weeks since the client never paid us.
I received a letter from Sami’s lawyer today, stating I had until Thursday, Aug 11, to pay Sami the amount she is owed $525.00 ($250 for the two weeks of work + $275 in gas expenses for driving to R&V). And if I refuse to pay the lawyer will pursue all legal remedies including liability for the sum owed plus court costs, and attorney fees.
I don’t intend to pay. Please advise
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
2 more things ....
1) I don't have a contract with Sami. I never hired her. She was never my employee, she was working with me on the account. I don't have an LLC or my own company. .
2) even though it wasn't my intention to spend much time working on the account. I had allotted for 5 hours a week. (our contract stated we were to work between 15-20 hours a week). I ended up having to spend A LOT more time working on RV to make up for Sami's lack of work.
Expert:  Ray replied 2 months ago.

Hi and welcome to JA. Ray here to help you tonight.

Here she has to prove up that there was an oral contract if she sues in small claims court.She has to prove up the time she put in and wasn't paid.

I will state that if she can prove she worked here the court may pay her.I understand you assumed a greater role here than anticipated.You can argue she did not fulfill her requirements work wise.

I understand you were not paid.You may consider some resolution here to avoid small claims.Offering say 1/3 and half the expenses seems a good starting point.Don't expect the fact that you weren't paid to completely save you here.If she can show some genuine work in a suit the court will award her something.

Some of this is your judgment about whether to pay or take your chances with small claims.In small claims here if you start arguing about the quality of her work then you are sort of agreeing there was a contract and she didn't fulfill all the terms so it can be a real catch 22.I would consider trying to resolve this on the cheap if you can and getting a signed release for your files.I think a judge would award her something for her efforts here especially the expense portion if she has records.

I appreciate the chance to help you tonight.Thanks again.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Thank you for your response. I am still a bit confused: I don't understand how she can sue me if we went into this 50/50. I signed the contract with the client, but how does that make me any more responsible? There was no oral contract that I was employing her to work for me. She was working for the client with me.
We got paid for everything but that last two weeks. According to the client, she didn't do any work for those two weeks which is why they didn't pay. So how does that make it my responsibility to pay her. I didn't benefit from it. The work wasn't done for my company (i don't have a company).As for the expenses, she is billing me for milage. She never purchased anything for the client or on their behalf. No one ever agreed to pay her gas milage. So again, how does that make me responsible for it?Would it help if I got a letter from the client saying they let us go, she didn't do the work, and they didn't pay us for the last 2 weeks? .Either way. i am fine paying a small portion off this, because i don't have the time or energy for small claims court. But truth be told, i am broke myself.... And I am still not clear on how this works. I have to write a letter back to the lawyer, and i don't want to say something that makes myself sound guilty incase she doesn't want to negotiate.what is a "signed release for your files"I know its late, will you please reply in the morning? Thank you so very much
Expert:  Ray replied 2 months ago.

You definitely want the letter here from the client it supports that she didn't do the work here.The problem here is a lack of any written agreement.IT comes down to a he said/she said deal.You can wait to see if she files suit.

It just isn't clear what the roles here were, obviously you have a signed agreement with the client, in that sense you are liable for the work.She would be a subcontractor here, there is a relationship between you and her thats separate from the one you have with the client and a contract.

If she can show she did some work the court may award her some money, what that is would depend on whether she can fill in these gaps to show the terms.I mean she will state that you agreed to pay her for her work and reimburse mileage.You can argue otherwise that it was dependent on you getting paid.But as you can see there are two very different versions of this, It amounts to whether there was an oral contract and what the terms then were here.

Thanks for the follow up.

Expert:  Ray replied 2 months ago.

You can use this if you are able to resolve

You can modify it to your facts..

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