Can an employer hold commissions on an employee?

UPDATED: Aug 24, 2011

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Can an employer hold commissions on an employee?

My husband’s company will not pay commissions that are due him because they needs the money for production because they are going through “things” and may not break even. The owner will not turn over any sales figures on jobs still owed for. What would our recourse be to obtain commissions earned?

Asked on August 24, 2011 Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Legally, an employer may NOT withhold commissions because they'd rather use the money for other things. (Commissions may possibly be withheld pending payment by the customers, or charged back for nonpayment, if the commission agreement provides for that.) If your husband is not paid, his recourse is to sue for the money owed him (he may be able to sue in small claims court  for a smaller amount, so he can represent himself and not have to pay an attorney).  If you're going to sue,  do it sooner rather than later--the company is admitting it's in financial distress, so you want to sue them while they still have money to pay. After all, if there is no money, then even if you win in court, you lose--you can't get blood from a stone, so to speak, so if there is no money to pay your judgment, you can win but still not collect.

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