What rights does a person have in a businessarrangement without a written contract?

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What rights does a person have in a businessarrangement without a written contract?

I manage a local performing artist. A few months back I was approached by a gal who wanted to help out the band. The title of Assistant Manager was given to her. After a few months it became hard to work with her. She was never physically available, but claimed to be doing “hundreds of hours” worth of work on her own time. The results of her labor were marginal at best. There was never any compensation agreed upon, other than the title. She is now claiming that she is owed over $4000 for her services and is threatening a law suit.

Asked on February 3, 2011 under Business Law, California

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Although it is obvious that written contracts are better to have as the terms are easier to prove, oral contracts can also be held valid if there is evidence supporting them.  Here you have some problems: you admit to hiring her; you admit to some form of work that she did ("results of her labor") and you left compensation open ended.  How, may I ask, did she compute her wages?  Is it from what she believes to be standards in the industry?  If she sues she still has to prove the essential elements of a contract to win her case.  She then has to prove that she actually worked the hours she claimed. And no court is going to give her a windfall with exorbitant compensation.  But I would speak with an employment attorney in your area.  Good luck. 


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