Under Pennsylvania law, if I am fired, am I still entitled to commission for sales I started?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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If you are a salesperson living in Pennsylvania and you get fired, you may be entitled to sales commissions. Whether or not the commission has to be paid depends on when the business considers that the commission is actually earned, since if a commission is earned before you get fired, then you are entitled to it by law. 

State Laws on Commission

Section 5 of the Wage Payment and Collection Law of Pennsylvania states “…whenever an employee quits or resigns his employment, the wages or compensation earned shall become due and payable not later than the next regular payday of his employer on which such wages would otherwise be due and payable.” Wages are defined as anything the employee earned, whether by hours worked, task, piece, commission, or any other method.   

As such, if your commissions have been earned already, your company is required by law to pay them. Businesses differ, however, on when sales commissions are earned. Sometimes a salesperson earns his commission when the sale is made, when the products are shipped, when they are delivered, when the payment comes in, or when the date has passed for giving refunds. Some companies, on the other hand, will pay a salesperson their commission 30 to 60 days after the sale was made.   

To determine whether the commission has been earned or not, the first thing to consider is any agreement between the employer and the employee. If there is no agreement that directly deals with when a commission is earned, then the payment history will control. There should be some indication of when the commission from a sale is paid or considered to be earnings and this historical precedent will be the deciding factor when there is no agreement.

If you and your employer disagree on the amount of your commissions or whether the commissions are earned or not, then you have several options. You can contact the Pennsylvania Secretary of Labor and file a claim or you can go to court with a Commissions Claim. In either case, you should strongly consider speaking with a lawyer for help.

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