What to do about seeking unpaid commissions?

UPDATED: Aug 24, 2011

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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