Claims for unpaid commissions form the heart of what we do at Strauss & Strauss, APC. That is because unpaid commissions wage claims are so common. These days more and more employees are paid on a commission basis because employers realize that shifting costs to employees is a good way to increase profits. And they often refuse to pay commissions, especially commissions that are large.
California law with regards to commissions is kind of like the Wild West. Unlike the specific laws that require employers to pay overtime wages and set for the formula for how to calculate overtime pay, there are no specific laws that set forth the amount of commissions to pay employees.
On the contrary, claims for unpaid commissions arise out of contract law. That means that whatever the parties agree on for the payment of commission wages will form the basis for any plans for nonpayment of those commission wages.
The problem with this approach is that oftentimes employers and employees do not put their commission agreement in writing, or the written contract is ambiguous and can have multiple meanings. The parties will therefore disagree on the terms of their agreement, and whether commissions have been earned or not. (However, a new law dictates that starting on January 1st, 2013, all commissions agreements must be in writing, but since the statute of limitations may be as long as four years on claims for unpaid conditions, the new law will not resolve this issue quite yet.)
At Strauss & Strauss, APC, our clients have had claims for unpaid commissions both big and small. We are familiar with the process for bringing such claims before the courts of the State of California or even how to file wage claims with the California Labor Commissioner. We also know that claims for unpaid commissions can trigger penalties for violation of Labor Code section 203, commonly referred to as waiting-time penalties. Perhaps most importantly, we know what else to look for when our clients come to us with claims for unpaid conditions. When an employer fails to pay commissions, it may trigger minimum wage violations and attendant liquidated damages claims. It may also saying all that the employer owes the employees overtime wages, and has not provided the employee with adequate paycheck stubs.
For answers to frequently asked questions regarding claims for unpaid commissions, visit our wage claims FAQ section.
If you believe you have a claim for unpaid commissions, contact Strauss & Strauss, APC immediately. We will be able to assess your claim and, if we agree to represent you, we can present your claim in the appropriate venue. We look forward to talking with you.