Having my pay docked and audio recording me

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Having my pay docked and audio recording me

My manager was transferred and we now have a new manager who apparently doesn’t ask HR if he is complying with state labor laws; he just does what ever he wants. I am in land sales for the company, and recently he has recorded me and other employees while we were with customers without our knowledge or consent. I found out when I was pulled into his office and sat there listening to several of the recordings he had made of me talking to the customers. He says that it was for training purposes but honestly I felt very degraded and embarrassed. Another thing that has me upset is that I am 100% paid commission from the sales I make for the company. I was required to get my real estate license and pass the exam; he verbally told me if I did not have my license and pass the test by a certain date he would be dock my pay 1% commission. I did not authorize it as I did not of course want to be losing my pay. also I was told I had to take a vacation day if I wanted to go take the test or I should use my days off to take the test. When I received my breakdown of my paycheck from a sale I had, he had docked me 1% and had a note there that if I did not pass it by the next week I would be docked 2% of my commission, which he never told me about. The following week my pay was docked 2% which was over $1000 of my paycheck. He also has been telling all of the employees that we will be fined money for things like being 1 minute late which will be a ia $50 fine; if we complain to other workers and not complain about our job behind closed doors to him, he will fine us $1000; and if we make him have to stay late because we do not have our reports handed in early enough and he is made to stay late that he will also fine us a monetary amount, which will be determined. This is some of the stuff that happens at our office. Can he record me without my knowledge and is he be able to dock my pay and take earned commissions earned away for me that I did not approve of or sign for? Should I call our HR department and let them know what is going on or should I seek legal counsel, as I think I will be resigning from this job and moving on as the new management at our company has made it impossible and very difficult to be able to work here and earn a living anymore?

Asked on April 2, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Going forward--that is, from the moment it is announced to you--the employer can reduce your commission if you do not obtain a qualification, certification, degree, etc. they want you to have, and they don't need your consent to it: it is purely up to the employer. Employers, not employees, determine what the commission rates are and also what qualifications employees need for work. So that is legal, again, so long as you are given notice of what will or is going to happen before you do the work for which you will be commissioned at the new, reduced rate.
However, the other things you describe are illegal: the employer cannnot dock your pay for being late; cannot dock your pay for making a supervisor/manager stay late; cannot fine you for complaining to other employees; etc. That is because an employer cannot make after-the-fact adjustments to pay: if you did work and earned $X, the employer must pay you $X for the work--it can't dock pay or fine you so as to pay you less. Based on what you write, you may have a viable complaint about much of this behavior which you could take to the department of labor, and/or about which you could sue. You may wish to, either singly or with your similarly-affected co-workers, consult with an employment law attorney to discuss your options.
As to recording you without your (or the customer's) consent: that was actually a criminal act. In your state, it is against the law to record a conversation unless *every* participant in the conversation consents to it. You could potentially take this issue to the police.
Note one thing: while an employer cannot dock your pay for being late, for making him work late, etc., he *can* fire you for lateness--that is legal. (Or if not firing you, anything "short of" firing, like suspending, demoting, etc.) So be aware that if you are late or don't do paperwork on time or create dissension by complaining to coworkers, there are legal actions the employer can take.


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