How do I collect my commission?

I am a real estate agent in Virginia and am an independent contractor. I am owed 30,000 in commissions from the firm that I left. My broker unilaterally entered into a ‘promissory note’ for the amount he owes me. My commissions were earned 12/16 – 2/17 and the note states that I will be paid in full by 9/17 but I did not agree to this. Is there any way to make him go ahead and pay me? My employment agreement states the commission percentage that I am to receive but not any time frame in which I will receive it. My broker has not denied owing me the commissions he just isn’t paying me.

Asked on May 10, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

When there is no time frame stated in a commission or employment agreement, commissions must be paid in the hard-to-define "reasonable time."  A court would typically look to 1) this employer's past practice (while you were working for them, how long it did take them to pay commissions) or, if there is no guidance from that, 2) industry standards (how long does it typically take similar companies in your geographic area to pay?) to define "reasonable." If they are taking longer than is reasonable, you can sue the employer for the money; the employer cannot make you accept a promissory note against your will. If the employer is an LLC or corporation, you would sue the company; otherwise, you would sue the owner(s) personally.


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