What to do about seeking unpaid commissions?

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What to do about seeking unpaid commissions?

I have held a job for 8.5 years and am not under contract with the company. They have always been late in paying sales commission to me (usually 1 year late), Yet, until last year, I always received the full amount owed. Now that I am almost 2 years past due, I want to receive the full amount owed to me. I do receive a small salary from the company. I am now questioning if they will pay me since they did not pay my fellow employee (who quit) what they owed him. I would like to create my own company and keep the client.

Asked on August 24, 2011 Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Two very different issues:

1) First, the company must pay you per the agreement (including an oral or verbal agreement) regardinig commissions. If they don't pay voluntarily, your recourse is to sue them for the money. Since there is a time limit (called a "statute of limitations") on how long you have to sue, you should consult with an attorney right away--if you wait too long, you lose the right to sue.

2) Whether you can keep the client depends on a) is there a non-solicitation or non-competition agremeent--if there is, it's terms are generally enforceable; and b) did you only find this client due to your work at the company--if you did, you might not be able to do anything more than just notify the client you are leaving and let them reach out to you (taking any client information or files could be misappropriating business property). This is something else to discuss with your attorney.


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