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How do I terminate an exclusive contract with a modeling agency that did not get me any work in Washington State?

Seattle, WA |

Based on the contract, I am an independent contractor. The agency has not sent me to any casting or gotten me any work for a year. The contract length is 2-year with auto-renewal and termination clause that gives me a small window before the renewal to act (but they can do so at any time). There is a section which states that they do not promise work, but by doing nothing, they are limiting my ability to go independent and/or with another agency that can get me work. I understand that Washington is mostly an at-will State, but that does not necessarily covers independent contractors. It does not seem right that this agency can force my income to be zero by doing nothing. I owe them no monies.

Is there a way to get out of this contract, based on non-performance on their part?

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Attorney answers 4

Posted

The only way to know is by hiring a local contract lawyer and getting more facts. The basic rule is that you are bound to the terms of the contract. There is a question of good faith and other possible issues that could be useful, but that is impossible to know without closer review. Moreover, the agency will take the issue considerably more seriously if you have an attorney forcing the issue. Good luck and, obviously, never sign another contract without legal advice.

This answer is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice regarding your question and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

Asker

Posted

Thank you, Robert. I understand that I am bound by the contract. I am just not sure how I could be bound to a contract that could restrict me from making a living if they do not deliver. This does not seem reasonable (involuntary servitude?). I have not been called to go to any casting for over a year. I continuously updated them with new photographs that I paid for for professionals. And every time, in the past, they sent me to castings, I went. There was not a single time that I did not go. I have been very responsible. These agencies do not negotiate with any models about their contracts. It's fixed and if I don't sign it in full, they would not have me. There are only three major modeling agencies here, and they have a triopoly. It's also a market where the agencies are the only places major companies book from. Thank you for your answer Robert.

Robert John Murillo

Robert John Murillo

Posted

You're welcome. I wish you best in your negotiation and career. Thanks.

Posted

I agree with the other attorney, but just to give you a bit more perspective on what an attorney that you consult with would want to know: (a) has the agency sent you any leads whatsoever? If so, your case weakens considerably, unless you can demonstrate that the leads were completely incompatible with your profile; (b) have you rejected any opportunities, at all? If so, your case is weaker. Even if you had a serious illness, a funeral, etc. you cannot say that they made no effort whatsoever if it just happened to be inconvenient for you. (c) Have you been asking them for work, reminding them you exist, sending them updated photos, etc.? If so, have they answered? What did they say? (d) Have you been offered other opportunities that you had to decline? All of this, in addition to having a copy of the contract, plus all emails, text messages, and other communications will be relevant to an attorney's assessment of whether best efforts by the agency were required, and whether they were made. Did you pay them any money to obtain your listing with them? If so, and they have not performed, then you probably can demand release from the contract and maybe even a refund of your money.

Without knowing all of the details, reviewing documents, and interviewing witnesses, no person should assume that this Answer constitutes specific legal advice for any specific legal situation. No attorney-client relationship is created by posting general legal responses on this site.

Asker

Posted

Thank you for the detailed answer, Saphronia. Let me quickly address the questions. a) Yes, they have sent me leads in the past, but have not for over a year. I have not been sent to a single casting for the whole 2012. b) I have not rejected any opportunity whatsoever, never an excuse. In the past, I went to every single casting they sent me to. c) I have consistently asked them for work, I have consistently updated my portfolio (which I paid for) myself. They always said that "it's a slow time for them". d) Yes, I have sent them leads quite a few times, and they have not followed up with the companies I sent them. And because of that, I could not take those jobs. e) I had to pay them money to be shown on their website (which is pretty silly in my opinion), although there was the option to not pay, but still remains on their roster. I know for certain that I am not the only one who has to deal with this right now. Thank you. Hope this is helpful. And once again, thank you for your answer Saphronia.

Saphronia R Young

Saphronia R Young

Posted

Well, I am happy to review the contract and any other documents with you, but I would have to charge you for my time. I would devote about one hour to this, at $220.00 per hour. If others are in the same situation, you may want to consider pooling your money, hiring the same attorney, and approach this as an unfair business practice claim. In Washington, each violation would entitle you to additional damages (which are not huge, but it does come with attorney fees).

Posted

I agree with the other attorneys. It is a fact intensive analysis and unless you can simply call them and they release you, you would need an attorney to review the agreement.

My disclaimer is simply that Avvo already has an adequate disclaimer.

Posted

I would have to read the individual contract to tell you for certain. But, it sounds like the answer is "no". No guarantees or warranties were made regarding employment. You would probably have to prove they did not use reasonable efforts to find employment for you. In my own experience, most agencies will release you from your contract if you have not been employed through them because, quite frankly, you are not making any money for them and as such are not helping their bottom line. You should take your contract to an attorney in your jurisdiction. The language of the contract is binding and, unless it is grossly overreaching, will govern this situation.

Asker

Posted

Thank you, Lauren. I also thought that there was really no reason for them to release me from the roster since I have not really made them any money. I just thought a contract like this is grossly unfair and that it can potentially limit many people's earning ability without the agency side producing anything at all.

Asker

Posted

It does not seem to satisfy the implied good faith of the spirit of the contract.

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