If my husband’s sales rep contract was not renewed and they encouraged me to travel with him, can we get reimbursed for my expenses?

The company encouraged me, his wife to travel with him and provide sales help to him at his meetings, including giving me a company badge, paying for airline fare (for meetings there) and paying extra food allowance at meetings I attended if we exceeded a certain threshold. So in effect, I have lost my job as well. I was not paid by them, except as hourly help at a few yearly conventions. My husband has to sign a document each year saying he would not do such things as play cards, drink, watch movies, etc. I had to wear dresses whenever respresenting this company. Do I personally have any recourse in this? I have done this dor 6 years.

Asked on October 21, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Speak with an employment law attorney about the situation in detail while it's not unusual for a spouse to have some ancillary hosting duties to support his/her spouse's job (e.g. organize and host dinner parties sometimes), the amount of work you describe may cross the line into you having been employed by them as well. While you say you received some hourly pay at yearly conventions, it's possible that you may be owed more back compensation. You were given a badge, you helped at meetings, you represented the company, had to adhere to a dress code, etc.
The kicker, though, is that if your husband was an independent contractor (a "1099 employee," though "employee" is really the wrong term for a contractor), then he was essentially his own "business" if that's the case, they likely don't owe you any more compensation, because all they owed was the compensation (presumably commissions) to the "family business" for selling their product. When you hire a small business (which again, is what an independent contractor really is), you don't pay extra if the business has a spouse (or child) helping out.
The specific facts are critical to determining your rights, if any. You need to review them in detail with an attorney.
 


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