Author Topic: Contract Dispute... Advice?  (Read 3171 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 10
    • View Profile
  • Experience: College/Graduate
Contract Dispute... Advice?
« on: May 28, 2016, 12:37 am »
Hi all,

I'm in need of some advice.

Long story short, I did a show which was in two parts, and left before the second part. When I signed my contract, it was with the understanding that I was only doing the first part of the show. I did the show, but it actually stopped midway through the first part of the run due to financial reasons. It turned out that it was continuing on to the second leg, but - as we knew from before, I was not continuing.

When I first discussed coming on to the show with my boss he told me he would pay me, let's say $1000 dollars for both parts of the run. Then I got another offer for a different job, which would begin half way through the run of my first show. I came to my boss and told him this, and he agreed to let me off the show after the first leg. When I signed me contract, we signed it with the knowledge I would only be there for the first part, however, I still signed a contract saying I was to be paid $1000, even though I was only doing half the show. I asked my boss about this, but he said we would figure the money out later.

So the run ends, and my boss asks me for an invoice, which I give him. He tells me that the amount is fine, but he'll pay me in two installments, several months from now. I email him and ask him to pay me sooner, and he acquiesces, but says he'll pay me $200 less than we originally agreed. I email him back, and ask when I'll be paid that other $200. Then he brings up my contract, and says since I only completed half the run I should be paid $500, to which I point out my contract, which he signed, saying I would be paid the full $1000.

I spoke to him on the phone this evening, pointing out that he agreed to the invoice amount, as well as my contract, which we signed after I took the other job, with that information accounted for.

He told me that I'm being immoral, and that I can't hold him to a contract and that he made a mistake when he approved the invoice. I attempted to explain that he signed the contract with the understanding that I was leaving the show early, and that he'd agreed to pay me the full amount, but he gave me an ultimatum, told me to take him to court if I was so sure I was right, said that I was awful at negotiating,  and that he would discredit me in the theatre community I'm apart of.

I told him that I was willing to negotiate, that I was willing to come down from the original contract amount, but above what he was trying to pay me, but he refused. Finally, I told him I would accept the amount that he was now offering me, which was far down from the contract i signed.

I'm still a bit too close to this to fully appreciate it, but I guess my question is, what could I have done differently? Did I do something wrong? Does this happen often?

I'm a bit afraid of what he'll do in terms of smearing my reputation in my community, is that a valid fear? Has this happened to anyone else? Basically, any advice anyone could give me, critical or not, would be appreciated, as I'm eager to learn from this super crappy experience in any way I can.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2016, 12:41 am by renal »


  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 2477
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SMA
  • Current Gig: PSM THE LION KING NORTH AMERICAN TOUR; Assc Director and Production Supervisor HUNCHBACK International
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Contract Dispute... Advice?
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2016, 01:15 am »
Well, the first thing you could have done was sign a contract that actually reflected the dates you planned on working.

And then you should have asked for a weekly salary based on that.

500.00 for the first part of the show, paid as $100.00 a week.

It's hard when working non-union because you don't have the union backing you up.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.


  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 284
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Current Gig: Former SM
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Contract Dispute... Advice?
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2016, 09:43 am »
Matt's points are strong. I would add that, since both you and the boss departed from the black-and-white language of the contract in subsequent verbal agreements, neither of you clearly have the moral high ground. A verbal agreement is legally defensible for a number of years, depending on your state/county... while a written contract is more robust.

The next time you sign a contract, make sure it reflects exactly what you believe will happen. There is nothing wrong with contacting a future employer, to say "Hey, I reviewed the contract you sent over, and based on our chat on ABC date, items XYZ should say this: etc., etc. Do you agree? Can you send me a contract with those changes?"

It sounds like your market is small, so the character assassination this guy has threatened might have real consequences. Were I in your shoes, I would bite the bullet, and end this interaction as quickly and politely as possible. If the topic comes up in the future, make it clear that the fault was shared equally, a resolution was reached, and the subject is closed. And if you should ever choose to work for this person again, triple-check the fine print, and do not sign unless the contract is rock solid. Personally, if a former employer told me he was lowering my compensation because I was an "awful negotiator," I would shut that door permanently.

Good luck!


  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 962
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Current Gig: Project Manager, Systems Integration
  • Experience: Former SM
Re: Contract Dispute... Advice?
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2016, 12:51 am »
Can you clarify one point?

You reference the figure of $1,000 that was agreed by both parties.  Was this $1,000 figure agreed for your completion of both "legs" of the run, then your scheduling conflict arose after that agreement?

If the answer to this question is "yes", then it's not reasonable for you to expect payment for the full length of the run while only completing half of it. 

If the $1,000 figure was agreed after your scheduling conflict was on the table and known, then you're completely within your right to expect full payment.  If it were me, I would not budge on this amount. 
Get action. Do things; be sane; donít fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt


  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 320
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA/AGMA/SMA
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Contract Dispute... Advice?
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2016, 07:35 pm »
The part that stuck out to me was the "we'll figure it out later" in regards to the actual payment. The whole point of signing a contract is that you are agreeing to the terms at the beginning, not going on good faith that when you sit down "later" you'll still both agree on what those terms are.

That's definitely something to take with you going forward.