Unpaid commissions are a common type of wage claim in Glendale and the surrounding communities. If your employer owes you commissions but isn’t paying them, you may have legal recourse. While every case is different, it may be in your best interest to talk to an unpaid commissions attorney who can evaluate your situation and, if possible, represent your best interests in court.
What Are Commissions?
The state of California considers commissions wages that you earn from the sale of a product. However, if you earn a percentage of a sum (such as the cost of what’s being sold, or the price of the services rendered), the state doesn’t consider it a commission. You must be directly involved in selling the goods or services in order for you to be entitled to commission protections under the law.
Generally, a commission is based on:
- A percentage of sales (gross) or profits (net) that the employee makes
- The number of sales an employee makes
What About Tech Commissions?
Tech commissions, which are typically earned by mechanics and technicians, aren’t commissions according to California law. People who earn tech commissions are usually paid an hourly wage, independent of the tech commissions they earn.
Is a Commission Like a Bonus?
A commission, although it can be a “lump sum” that you’re paid once in a specific time period, isn’t like a bonus. A bonus is discretionary, which means an employer can choose to pay or not pay it; a commission is something you are entitled to receive because you made sales.
How Do Employers Calculate Commissions?
When you start a job that involves commissions, you’ll usually negotiate the amount and how it’s calculated with your employer. Sometimes the commission is based on gross figures; other times, it’s based on net figures. Either way, employers and employees generally agree on the terms of commissions before the employee begins working in the company.
Is There a Minimum Commission Amount Employers Must Pay?
Because employers and employees are free to negotiate commissions before the employee begins work, there is no minimum amount of money an employer must pay. There aren’t specific legal guidelines on commissions like there are on overtime, breaks, and other employer-employee interactions.
Can Your Employer Change the Terms of Your Contract?
If you’ve signed a commission agreement with your employer and you have sold goods or services under that contract, your employer is obligated to uphold its end of the bargain in that contract. (Let’s say you signed a commission agreement that says you earn 50 percent of every sale you make, and you sell $100 worth of products or services. Your employer owes you $50.)
Your employer can later say, “We’re going to pay you 40 percent of all the sales you make,” and give you the option to continue selling for the company—but your employer can’t apply that new deal to products and services you sold before it implemented the new 40 percent policy.
Can You Prove That You Earned a Commission?
Under California law, you’ve earned your commission if you’ve met all the legal conditions required for your employer to pay you.
What to Do If Your Employer Won’t Pay You Commissions You Earned
First things first: If your employer owes you commissions and refuses to pay, it may be a good idea to talk to a Glendale employment lawyer who understands your situation and who can determine how the law applies in your case.
Most attorneys will tell you to talk to your employer to try to resolve the issue first. Show your employer the proof you have that you actually earned the commissions (but make sure you keep copies of everything you share with your employer, just to be safe) and see if you can reach an agreement before you involve an attorney. (If you’ve lost your job and your former employer refuses to pay you, try meeting with your old boss and resolving the situation; if that doesn’t work, then it’s time to call a lawyer.)
The bottom line is that you did your job, and you should expect your employer to pay you for your work. In fact, you have a right to be paid for your work—and you have the right to be paid on time.
If you’ve been denied commissions you earned, we may be able to help you fight back and get the money you’re entitled to receive.
Call us at 818-617-9713 or send a message to a Glendale employment lawyer today and tell us what’s going on. We’ll answer your questions and give you case-specific legal advice about your case.