Skip to Content

Unpaid Commissions

Wages are a right, not a privilege. Commissions are considered wages governed by many of the same legal safeguards as other earnings. Unfortunately, employers sometimes treat commissions as discretionary and separate from income in violation of employment laws and contractual provisions. What are an employee’s options when commissions are not fully and timely paid or when they are denied outright?

We pursue all available remedies to recover commissions that are in dispute. We also proactively protect employees by negotiating comprehensive contractual terms at the start of a project or business relationship.

Commission Contracts

The terms of commission earnings and payment are generally governed by contract. The contract may establish a percentage based upon sales, client retention, progress of a project or another definable measurement. Establishing clear, unambiguous formulae for calculating performance-based earnings protect the parties from a later dispute over how much is owed and when.

Our employment law attorneys have substantial experience in negotiating and drafting commission contracts for sales, real estate brokerage and government projects. We view terms from the perspective of a litigator, always considering how the language could be misinterpreted or misapplied to wrongfully withhold commissions from the earner. We are thus able to address those issues before problems arise.

Laws Governing Commissioned Employees

Although commissions are wages, this type of income is not governed in the same manner as hourly wages or salaries. Therefore, how pay is categorized can be crucial to determining legal rights and next steps to recover unpaid commissions. The facts surrounding the actual employment relationship matter more than the title the employer gives to the job. For instance, a worker may meet the criteria of an employee despite being called an independent contractor.

Often commissions are paid in addition to a set hourly or salaried amount. An employer is permitted to recoup advances on commissions from future commissions. However, the employer cannot deduct payment of wages or salary.

In addition, whereas salary or wages end once the employee has left or been terminated, a company cannot unfairly deny payment of earned commissions, even if paid in the next quarter, upon collection or according to other terms established in the employment contract.

Disputes in Government Contract Commissions

Government contracting sales professionals often receive part or all of their pay on commission. This arrangement complicates earnings obligations and rights and often results in disputes, particularly if the professional leaves the business. Our attorneys have significant experience handling complex government contract litigation to recover our client’s rightful commissions.

Recover Commissions with the Assistance of an Alexandria Business Litigation Attorney

If you are involved in a dispute over owed commissions, contact an Alexandria business litigation attorney at Harvey & Binnall, PLLC. We will review your situation and help you take appropriate legal action to recover the commissions you have earned.