my boss refused to pay my husband’s invoice for contract work

A reader writes:

I have a tricky situation. Previously this year, my husband was hired by my boss to do some contract video work for the company I work for. I was in charge of the art direction and we completed the assignment to (what I thought) were my boss’s specifications. My office had also hired another vendor to complete the bulk of the filming and post production. My boss handled most of the art direction for them, and I filled in as needed.

As we went into post production, the other vendor and my boss were unhappy with what my husband produced. I spoke with my boss to see what was wrong and any issues he had. It boiled down to he was unhappy with the art direction and the shots that resulted. I reminded him that I was responsible for the art direction and I clearly messed up and took ownership for my mistake.

After our discussion, he stated that he didn’t want to pay my husband and he asked me what we should do next. I told him he needed to talk to my husband directly as it was his decision to hire him and I thought it was inappropriate for him to ask me to handle this just because he’s my spouse. He said he would, and then never did. Obviously, I had to tell my husband the situation and he reached out to my boss to discuss the concerns and he also offered to video/photograph another project for free (the initial project was time-sensitive and could not be reshot; otherwise he would have done that.) My boss refused to get in touch with him or meet with him. My husband finally decided to drop it and take the loss. He routinely works for other departments at my company and he didn’t want to jeopardize those relationships.

Fast forward to now, and I have a new interim boss (previous boss was encouraged to leave). We’re approaching the end of the fiscal year and I would like to resubmit my husband’s invoice because I believe he did the work I was in charge of asking him to do. Is that ethical? Do I need to explain the whole situation or can I just state it’s an invoice that got lost in the process? (That happened a lot with my boss.) The fact that he is my husband adds an extra level of weird that isn’t there when he works for a different department where he is hired independent of his relationship to me.

I wrote back to this letter-writer and asked, “Was there a contract or any kind of explicit agreement that included the possibility of your husband not getting paid? Or did they spring that on him out of nowhere afterward?” The response:

This is where both parties messed up. Our office typically doesn’t ask for contracts with vendors we’ve happily done business with before, and this included my husband (in fact, he’s done work for us after my boss left.) My husband did not submit a contract to our office AND to make matters worse, there is no email trail. All of this was handled verbally in person. Obviously, in the future, both parties need to be more diligent and set protections in place.

Yeah, he definitely should have a contract that covers this kind of thing and doesn’t leave it up to clients to decide whether they feel like paying for his work or not.

Anyway, if this were a regular vendor who wasn’t married to you, I’d say that you should just go to your new boss, explain what happened previously, and say that although your old boss wasn’t happy with the work, you did agree to pay for it and you think that needs to happen now.

The problem, of course, is that you are married to this particular vendor, and it’s putting you in a really awkward position. Instead of the situation being a run-of-the-mill “requesting that we get this vendor paid” situation, it’s going to read as “your predecessor didn’t want to pay my husband, but I think he should be paid.” That’s a reasonable position for you to take, on a purely logical level. On the not entirely logical plane on which humans operate, it’s going to look a little conflict-of-interest-ish.

However, the good news here is that you don’t have to handle this at all! It’s entirely reasonable for your husband to manage this on his own, just like he would do if you didn’t work there. In fact, I’d recommend that both of you pretend that you don’t work there, and have him proceed the way he would if that were the case. That probably means that he should reach out to your new boss, explain what happened previously, and ask for the outstanding invoice to be paid. That lets him manage his own business, which is how it should work anyway, and it gets you out of dealing with a situation that there’s no way to navigate well as the spouse.

And from now on: written agreements before he starts work, especially when he’s doing work for your company, since that makes the need for clear expectations on all sides all the more important.

{ 59 comments… read them below }

  1. CaliCali*

    I’d say the biggest mistake involved in all of this was not having the written agreements in place. If your husband does consistent work for your company, he should at least have some sort of master contract that outlines rates and payment terms. That also makes it more abundantly clear that you shouldn’t be directly involved in any dealings between your company and your husband, since it presents a conflict of interest when it comes to situations like the one you’re experiencing now. An agreement will alleviate confusion and conflict all around.

    1. Rex*

      I think the other lesson — maybe you shouldn’t be his point at the organization? As Alison pointed out, can at least create the perception of conflict of interest. Maybe you’ve already worked that one out, though.

      1. OP*

        In most cases I’m not his point of contact and even in our office I try to not to be unless the assignment falls within my job duties. Some of the other divisions that hire him don’t realize that we’re married and I’m happy with it that way. I want to make sure that he’s hired because of his work, not his wife, YK?

  2. Menacia*

    “My husband finally decided to drop it and take the loss. He routinely works for other departments at my company and he didn’t want to jeopardize those relationships.” Not sure why this was not good enough? The new boss has no history with your husband or his work, and I would be surprised if he would want this brought up since it was his predecessor’s decision (good or bad) not to pay the bill. I also did not see anywhere in the posting if the OPs husband *wants* her to bring this to her new boss…does he?

    1. Karo*

      I don’t think that’s fair. Any reasonable person would – if they knew that this wasn’t just a scam – be happy to pay for work already completed, if it were completed to the specifications. And yes, it’s ultimately her husband’s decision, but I think it’s her responsibility as a partner in the marriage to encourage him to get paid for the work he did.

      1. Graciosa*

        In this case, however, the predecessor made a deliberate decision not to pay for the work and said it was not satisfactory. These decisions are generally respected.

        I would not say that “any reasonable” person wants to get dragged into serving as an appellate review for all their predecessor’s decisions. Normally changes are made moving forward only – when it involves the operation of my department, which is my job – and not retroactively – when it involves overruling my predecessor’s decisions, which is *not* my job.

        This is too much like being asked to rewrite a previous performance review already finalized by the previous boss. He had the authority to make the decision at the time, and it is not my job to reverse his final decisions. This is just not done, and I wouldn’t want to get involved in it.

        I’m with Menacia on this one –

        1. MK*

          But did he have the authority? A client does not have the authority to unilaterally decide they won’t pay a contractor, unless under conditions usually spelled out in the contract; lse anyone could avoid payong by claiming the work wasn’t satisfactory. And as far as I can tell, the previous manager didn’t specifically inform the OP’s husband that they were witholding payment, he just dodged him hoping he would stop asking and it worked.

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            But there was no contract – that’s the whole problem. So since a contract didn’t exist, OP’s husband is out of luck unless he wants to take the matter to court (which it doesn’t sound like he would).

            1. Gaara*

              There’s no *written* contract. They had a contract although the terms of it may be unclear.

        2. Observer*

          The situations as described by the OP is a classic situation where the successor should absolutely review the decision of a predecessor.

          In any reasonably run company, the predecessor would not have had the authority to make this particular decision – to not pay a vendor because the directions the vendor was given were inadequate.

          I also suspect, based on what the OP says, that the successor would not be too shocked to hear of another situation that needs cleaning up.

        3. EricT*

          It is one thing to make a decision to not pay a vendor and explain to them why and/or work out a solution, it is another to not pay and then avoid phone calls and contact with the vendor giving no real reason for not paying. This is a sleazy by a bad boss. If i were the new boss these are the kinds of things I would want to know about to correct in hopes that bridges were not burned by the former boss.

        4. Sketchee*

          I don’t agree. If an employee of Comcast or McDonalds made a verbal agreement with me to make work, that is legally binding. Is there anyone else who can verify that there was work done by OP’s husband outside of his wife? Yes, the second vendor who ultimately completely the work can attest that this work exists. The husband also has the work he created as record that he did work for this company.

          If any big name company like ABC or Disney tried to pull “Well, that guy doesn’t work here anymore so we don’t have to pay you. His phone is disconnected” that would be ridiculous. And if the person works there or not, the husband has complete standing to talk to the Boss’s boss and explain the situation.

          Companies are legal entities are still completely responsible for their verbal agreements even if individual employees no longer work there.

          A contract would make it clear and easier. Still there are many options before court. I’d mail my invoices to the attention of the new boss, with a letter honestly explaining the situation exactly as the OP described

    2. OP*

      He would like to be paid. As I said in the letter, he attempted to reach out to my boss to discuss concerns and my boss would dodge his calls.

  3. Snarkus Aurelius*

    What is missing from your letter is whether or not your boss effectively and clearly communicated his expectations to your husband, regarding what he wanted your husband to do at throughout the entire process.  Yes, a contract would have outlined that, but I won’t belabor that point.  

    Did your boss give examples of other videos he liked?  Was he clear about the type of content he wanted to see when he first met with your husband?  When things went wrong, what specifically did your boss say when he articulated his displeasure to you?  Throughout the creative and development processes, did your husband keep your boss up to date on what he was doing?  Did your husband show your boss his progress as opposed to showing your boss everything for the first time when the project was done? Most importantly, did your boss use your husband’s work anyway?

    The red flag here is that your boss refused to discuss the matter with your husband even after he told you he was going to.  Dissatisfied customers, regardless of logic or reason, articulate their concerns and justify why they won’t pay/comply.  To tell a third party of this dissatisfaction, not pay, and pull the silent treatment is…unprofessional.  Your boss took the cowardly way out and clearly relied on you to do his dirty work.  I highly doubt that if you two weren’t married that he would have reacted the same because your husband would have wondered why his invoice wasn’t paid.

    As a writer, I have worked for people who don’t know what they want until they see a completed work with no mistakes, which is utterly unrealistic.  I recall a handful of people who give vague directions, dislike the end result, and demand everything be redone WITHOUT any specific, substantive feedback.  Seriously, I had one woman say, “I don’t have any specific criticisms.  I just don’t like it so please redo it.”  Lazy!

    No one is the winner here, but your boss’s actions are the worst of all.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      It sounds like the husband’s work wasn’t actually the problem, though — it was the OP’s work!

      I have to admit that I don’t understand what an art director does, so I’m a little lost in commenting further on this. But I’m imagining a situation in which the art director (the OP) decides “We’ll open with some shots of trees,” then the husband shoots some video of trees, and the boss says “I really wanted him to open with some shots of geese instead of trees.”

      1. Nerfmobile*

        A little trickier than that. Palm trees? Oak trees? Pine trees? In winter? Summer? Fall? Daytime? Nightime? Dawn? Dusk? From a ground angle? From overhead? Far away? Up close? Zoom in? Zoom out? In the middle of a tree? Are there birds in the trees? Squirrels? Is it raining? Sunny? Windy?

        1. OP*

          Correct! Example, he wanted a shot that looked like the point of view of someone walking up a path, so we did that, but it turned out he wanted it in a totally different style, which we never discussed.

        2. T3k*

          I was coming on here to say something like this, but you beat me to it. As a designer, I HATE when a customer is vague so when I go one way they go “Oh, I don’t like that, redo it” without saying why they don’t like what I did. *headdesk* My own boss was guilty of this had she had a habit of giving me some projects for her personal stuff (like a family reunion design) and ended up going through 7 designs in 2 days before I finally got fed up and went “Ok, WHAT is it your family doesn’t like? The font, the colors, what?!” Finally got a design they liked done within a few hours of the deadline.

          1. Anna*

            I know a lot of people who work in design and I have heard their horror stories of vague direction and multiple revisions, so I try really hard to be as descriptive as possible. Almost to the point I worry that I’m being too precise (it’s a fine line between this is what I want and this is what you can do).

      2. Snarkus Aurelius*

        Yeah but that doesn’t explain why he doesn’t want to pay the husband? Or maybe I missed a detail?

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          I got a job with someone at a company I had done work for before. It was the first time working with this person, in fact I had never heard their name mentioned by anyone else at the company. Last minute, rush, crazy, up until 4am two days in a row. All the time it was “this is great!” “The client loves it!” and then more changes. Most of this was done over the phone, not via e-mail. Until the last day. I knew that the deadline was at 3pm, so despite not getting much sleep that night, I was up early and waited for the inevitable changes. And I waited. After a couple of hours, I call the client — straight to voicemail. I leave a message. I send an e-mail asking for an update. A few hours later, I call again and I’m starting to panic because this is not good. Every other time, he picked up the phone right away.

          Finally at 5pm he calls me back. Only to tell me that *everything* was wrong and he had spent the whole day fixing all of my mistakes. I was horrified. I said “why didn’t you say something sooner? I was standing by to fix anything you wanted!” He didn’t really have a replay to that and then he busted out the “I’m not going to pay you any more than $X for this job.” We had never discussed budget, he had been all “we’ll pay whatever to get this done.” I was sick as a dog because I had never had this happen before.

          A week or so later, I was talking to someone else and in the course of conversation mentioned this as they were more familiar with the company than I was — maybe they had heard something? Maybe they knew some back story? It turned out this guy was notorious for ripping off vendors in this way. I felt a little better, but not much. I sent in an invoice for as close as I could get to $X taxes included and they paid. I will never work for them again and that is fine with me.

          A few months went by and I was onsite with another job. As we do, we were swapping stories in the downtime and I told my story. I left out names. When I was done, one of the stagers asked who it was, so I told him and he said “$firstName ‘The Snake’ $lastName?” Apparently that’s how he operates. Everything is fine until the last possible minute, then he finds something wrong and yells bloody murder about it to get a discount. I got a whole bunch of anecdotes of other times ‘The Snake’ has pulled that on the staging company.

          Some people are just assholes, OP. And it sounds like your former boss is one. Some people also don’t realise that they are paying for someone’s time and skill combined, not necessarily the finished product. It’s not like going into a store, buying some glassware, taking it home and deciding it doesn’t match your plates so you return it. You hire someone for the day, you pay them. Unless they have behaved in some completely unprofessional way (drunk, high, physical violence, surfing p0rn instead of working), that’s the unwritten freelance contract. People like this behave this way because they know that freelancers aren’t going to kick up a fuss because it will poison their other relationships at a company, potentially give them a black mark on their name in the industry, and they won’t take the time and effort to pursue it in small claims court/hire a lawyer because it’s too costly.

          So if I were your husband, I would just follow up with accounting that this invoice I submitted for project #_____ has not been paid, it’s X days past the due date and when might I see payment on that? Attach a copy for their records. They might not even follow up with FormerBoss and just run it through. Also OP, check the final videos to see if any of his work was used in any capacity, even on some other project that happened later. If you can find some instance of the work being used, more reason for them to pay up.

      3. Meg Murry*

        So this is the part that stands out in my mind. Take the relationship out of the picture, and replace OP’s husband with some other cameraperson. Here’s that story, per what OP has posted so far:

        -OP and cameraperson film the footage on the weekend. Cameraperson never actually spoke to OldBoss, followed art direction of OP.
        -Footage turned in. OldBoss didn’t like it, but the issue is art direction, not camera work.
        -Cameraperson insist that it is not his fault that OldBoss doesn’t like the footage, he did what he was told to do by the art director (OP), and submits an invoice for $1k+.
        -Oldboss never pays the invoice, Oldboss leaves, Newboss hired.
        -Cameraperson re-submits an invoice. Newboss says “OP, what’s the story with this invoice? Why did Oldboss refuse to pay it?”

        So now OP has to fall on her sword and admit that she made a mistake that either wasted $1k+ (if they wound-up reshooting the footage) or that she produced subpar work due to poor art direction and/or poor communication with OldBoss. Or she has to be dishonest and say something like “I don’t know why OldBoss didn’t pay it – he was disorganized like that sometimes” (not recommended)

        The thing is, this situation damages OP’s work reputation far more than the husband’s, unless OldBoss was known for being a poor communicator with art directors and that’s why he’s no longer there. So OP and her husband need to decide – is going after this $1k worth starting off her reputation with NewBoss on a bad foot as her being a poor art director or poor communicator? Or are they better off eating the $1k and keeping her with a good reputation at work and him with a good reputation overall with the company?

        But in future I think OP needs to have a 3rd party involved, she can’t art direct for her husband’s shooting – even if that means he doesn’t get the job. It’s just too much of a conflict of interest.

    2. OP*

      That’s the thing. He actually never spoke to my husband about ANY of this. He spoke to me and to the other vendor, but I was responsible for talking to and art directing my husband. Obviously, we won’t do that again.

      In terms of showing my boss his work, we did most of the shooting over a weekend (tight turn around). In hindsight I should have insisted he be there to review footage the same as he did with the other crew.

  4. AMG*

    I wonder if the boss was encouraged to leave because of behavior like this. If so, that builds your husband’s case for getting paid. I suspect boss has issues in multiple areas.

    1. OP*

      boss’s leaving was incredibly…complicated. It’s still incredibly complicated putting things back together. I’m reminding myself to just keep swimming…

  5. just laura*

    I would drop it. Your husband has already written it off as a loss and has done other work, so he has salvaged his reputation at your org. Bringing it up again could put you and him at risk again– for being seen as unprofessional, having conflicts of interest, or bad judgment. I would let it go.

    1. OfficePrincess*

      If OP’s husband wants to let it go, that’s certainly an option, but I don’t know how asking for payment for work performed is unprofessional or bad judgement.

      1. Willis*

        I agree. If you work for yourself, asking for payment is a pretty crucial part of the job. It sounds like Husband has a pretty good reputation with OP’s company if he’s been asked to be on projects before and after this occasion. Seems like it would be worth it for him to contact New Boss about the outstanding invoice directly and at least see what the response is.

      2. Meg Murry*

        It’s not unprofessional or bad judgement on the part of the husband – but it can make OP look unprofessional or like she has bad judgement. OP said she took the blame with OldBoss, but did she receive any kind of repercussions for taking that blame? Because if husband goes after this it and says “My work was fine, OldBoss had an issue with the art direction, not the camera work. Pay me.” then it is bringing up to NewBoss that there are (or may have been) issues with OP’s ability to do art direction or her ability to communicate with boss. And/or her professionalism in hiring her husband in the first place to do the work that she was art directing.

        And I think it can harm Husband’s reputation at the company if NewBoss says “ugh, this cameraguy – my predecessor told him we weren’t paying for his work because we didn’t like the results, but now he’s trying to press me to pay the old invoice” – it could harm Husband’s reputation with other departments.

        Does the whole situation stink? Yes. But I’ve definitely been in business situations where we wrote off the cost of certain jobs, in order not to harm our ability to get future work with that client. Obviously, if you are in that situation often, you probably need to put your foot down, insist on being paid and stop working with that client – but one-off write-offs are sometimes worth it for the sake of the business relationship.

        1. Willis*

          It may depend on how big of an issue was made over the work. If the company couldn’t use what was shot, or it was generally regarded as pretty sub-par, it’s probably not worth dredging up the whole thing for $1,000. But, if the work was used and ultimately worked out fine even if it didn’t meet OldBoss’ vision, I would think it’d be worth following up about the unpaid invoice.

  6. Cucumberzucchini*

    I think I would let it go depending on how much money it was. Over or under $1k? If it’s just a couple hundred dollars I would let it go, not worth rocking the boat over. If it was a ton of work and the invoice was close to $1k or more, I would ask husband to handle it.

      1. Decimus*

        I think at the least he could re-submit and ask for reimbursement for the purchased equipment. That’s a business expense separate from quality of work, for one thing.

    1. Anna*

      I think people who are self-employed can’t easily walk away from money they’re owed and I wouldn’t recommend that. The OP’s husband is owed the money. You can’t just up and decide not to pay something because you don’t like it after the work is done. It’s a bit like asking for your dinner to comped because you didn’t like it and yet you ate the whole thing.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Yep, we went to dinner with a couple, and the husband did just that. So embarrassing.

        And as a self-employed person, my husband has had clients like this too.

  7. BRR*

    If it’s possible I think your husband can simply say old boss did not process the invoice and resubmit it. Most people know you need to pay others for their work even if you don’t like it.

    1. AMG*

      You know, I like this. I feel like he is getting a do-over since the old boss is gone.

    2. Graciosa*

      Oooh, I think this is a bad idea.

      If the new boss finds out the old boss rejected the invoice, he will never trust the OP again.

      An honest conversation between the husband and the new boss is fine. This kind of deception is not.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes — this would be leaving out crucial information and would make the OP look really untrustworthy if the new boss found out the back story. If there’s a chance that the new boss wouldn’t pay the invoice if she hears the back story first, then it would be hugely problematic to ask her to pay it without giving her that back story.

        1. OP*

          Oh I agree! I’m going to encourage him to resubmit and provide back story. Thank you for answering my question Alison!

      2. hbc*

        I don’t think it’s out of line for the husband to resubmit the invoice and say, “I’m still waiting for payment on this.” There was a disagreement about the work performed, but since Old Boss never engaged to discuss it, I would consider the matter still open. We argue with both suppliers and customers like this on a semi-regular basis. You say you shipped the parts, we say it wasn’t as many as you said, you do a package trace to find everything was delivered, we tell you that one box had fewer parts than marked, etc until someone finds solid evidence or folds. If we stop responding to you, you’re still going to keep that invoice on your books and nag us about it from time to time.

        But OP should stay far, far away from this exchange. It already looks like the person who can’t be financially penalized is taking the fall for the person who can, regardless of where the actual responsibility resides.

  8. Nanc*

    Your company would be smart to come up with a standard SOW (Statement of Work) form for these projects. They don’t have to be elaborate. Just a quick one pager outlining the project and the vendor info that both parties sign.

    We work with independent contractors all the time and an SOW protects both sides. You can always include kill-fee language in case the end product isn’t usable, that way the contractor gets paid something for their time.

    1. Nanc*

      DOH! I just comprehended that this verbal agreement was an exception to your company’s usual practice! Disregard my comment!

      1. OP*

        No, you’re absolutely right! We really should be using that for any project. I’m going to look at drafting one.

  9. Megs*

    I’m with Allison on this one – it’s worth a shot for your husband to reach out to the new boss. With respect to the contract issue, I can’t tell if your husband sometimes submits contracts and just didn’t in this instance, or if he never uses contracts. If the latter (so ignore if inapplicable), I’d really encourage him to put something together. Contracts can seem really intimidating, but they don’t have to be – so long as it’s clear that both parties agree that person A will do something in exchange for something from person B, it’s generally legally binding regardless of format.

  10. Crazy Canuck*

    I ran into a similar issue when I started my own IT business around ten years ago. (The most educational and expensive 11 months of my life.) I did contract work for several different people in the same company, and one of them refused to approve one of my invoices for payment. After several attempts to contact the guy who wouldn’t approve of that invoice failed, I informed the other clients from that company that regretfully I would no longer be able to accept work from them while that invoice was outstanding. I received a call from their bookkeeper two days later to ask whether I would prefer to pick up the check or have it mailed.

    I’m also going to disagree on contract, as IME I’ve found them useless. I can’t afford to out-litigate my clients for major cases, and have successfully collected debts in small claims court with nothing more than an invoice. I’m sure there are exceptions, but mostly they seem to be used by bigger companies to bully smaller ones.

  11. Mando Diao*

    It sounds like OP’s husband was asked to do a job but that OP ended up doing a lot of it (even most of it) herself. I see this being part of the problem. If OP is exempt and completed this project at home, the company might try to take the position that the work has already been paid for. If her husband ever came into the office to work on the project during work hours, she’s been paid for that. I’m a bit confused as to why OP involved herself so heavily in her husband’s work when that wasn’t part of the original deal. I’ll be honest: If I hired a contract worker for a specific project and then found out that other people were pulled into it, I’d be annoyed, and I’d probably reject the entire thing in lieu of trying to work out proper payments for everyone who had unauthorized involvement in it. Either the OP is exempt and her payment is already covered, or she’s an hourly worker who was doing work for the company when she wasn’t supposed to and now she’s waiving payment. When the company originally agreed to use OP’s husband’s work, they might not have realized that one of their current employees was going to do so much of the work. Why pay the husband as if he did the whole thing himself? Unless I’m missing something, this just doesn’t look right to me. Her boss expressed dislike of her husband’s work and she said, “Oh, actually I did most of this camera work.” I wouldn’t pay the guy either.

  12. JessaB*

    My issue with this, is work was done. If you don’t like a contractor’s work, you don’t hire them ever again. You don’t not pay for work that was done. Just like you can’t not pay an hourly worker for their work. You can fire them, you can make them do it again, but you can’t not pay them for the work done, unless you have a pretty specific spec contract with the contractor. Without a contract that says pay is only for a specific product due to specific standards, you pay them, then put them on your “no hire” list.

    1. Mando Diao*

      With freelance workers, you actually can reject work that you deem unsatisfactory, especially if much of it was done by an employee is who is already on the payroll.

      1. Willis*

        They had different roles on the shoot…sounds like she was directing, he was the cameraman, and a 3rd person/firm was editing. That’s not atypical, nor does it mean one person was actually doing all the work. If the real issue was the direction, but the camerawork was fine, why shouldn’t he get paid?

        1. Mando Diao*

          Well when you’re a freelancer, you get paid based on whether or not your work is accepted. Hopefully you’re working for someone who’d pay you anyway, but it’s not mandated, nor should it be expected. It’s just part of the deal with freelancing, and that’s the risk you take when you decide to work outside of established employment channels. I already wrote a long post about this, so I don’t want to repeat myself too much, but I can understand why the company didn’t pay up when they didn’t like the final product, and especially after they found out that they were already paying the person (the OP) who seems to have done most of the work of shooting footage. Why pay the husband when you could just assign future work to the person who’s already on your staff? It matters that the husband “hired” people when he wasn’t authorized to do so, and it raises issues of whether he’d “pay” OP for her contributions, if you want to go this route. You can’t pay someone for a job he didn’t do, and the husband wouldn’t be operating in good-faith standing if he acted like he was owed the full amount, since he didn’t do all the work and the OP’s fee is already embedded in her salary.

          If you hired an employee’s husband to do a job but then found out that the employee did a lot of that work, would you still pay the husband the full amount? Or would you feel like the couple thought they could get away with being paid twice (once via the employee’s paycheck, and again by the contractor fee) for a project that should have reasonably only had one set of hands on it? The work wasn’t satisfactory, and IMO it’s incredibly dishonest to have presented it has his work and worthy of full payment when he’s not the one who did the work.

          1. Yetanotherjennifer*

            Well, the OP wasn’t the one holding the camera; she was the one who determined where to point the camera. It is legitimately two jobs and very common for projects like this to have an internal art director who not only knows the desired look for the project at hand, but also knows the style and branding standards for the whole company. And I suspect she took the blame but perhaps was not entirely to blame for this situation.

          2. RPCVme*

            You keep mentioning the OP having done most of the work, specifically shooting, but that isn’t the impression that I got at all, and I don’t recall reading anywhere where she said that. Her role seemed to be clearly delineated from the get go-to provide art direction for this project, which I’m assuming is just part of her normal responsibilities, based on what she wrote. It also doesn’t mention her husband hiring anyone, but sounds like the reason she took responsibility was because her old boss had issues not with the quality of the video but what was shot and how, which I guess were her decisions.

  13. The Strand*

    (So I’m the only one who read the headline here and immediately thought of Donald Trump? e.g. that some people have a track record of deliberately dodging contractor bills?)

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