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An employer lays me off instead of paying me my due commissions. Do I have a case to sue for due commissions?

Boston, MA |

The pay structure is a bi-monthly draw along with quarterly commissions (gross quarterly commission -quarterly draw already paid= net quarterly commission).
Commissions are 22.5% of the gross margins and split between salesman based one a common MOPP (50% split for upfront design work and 50% split for selling to contractor). The company has gone through great pains to call this an incentive rather than a commission.
I was unable to return to my desk to grab records of the MOPP or process documents detailing project numbers and commission splits.
I am told that I was not an employee for the completion of the sales cycle and not eligible for payment (sales cycle can take up to 12-24 months from design to shipment to payment). Their definition of sales cycle seems bias.

Attorney Answers 5


Whether you are entitled to collect unpaid commissions depends on a number of factors, but most particularly, on the wording of the commission plan or commission agreement, and what it says about when commissions become due and payable. I would suggest having a lawyer review the commission plan and the facts surrounding your termination.

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Your plan about the commissions will govern, so hire an attorney and have that read and studied to set a course of action for you

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You should consult with an employment attorney in your area. Unpaid wages, including commissions, are taken very seriously in Massachusetts. Employers who violate wage laws can be required to pay triple the damages plus attorney fees.

Whether or not your employer owes you future commission payments is depended upon the terms of your commission structure. An attorney can review that and let you know what your options are.

You can search for an attorney on Avvo or contact the Massachusetts Employment Lawyers Association for a referral.

Good luck.

This answer is provided for guidance only. DO NOT rely on it as legal advice. We DO NOT have an attorney-client relationship. You should contact an attorney in your area for a one-on-one consultation before pursuing any action or making any decisions.

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I agree with Attorney Miller on this question. It really depends on the language of the agreement. You should speak with an attorney because you may be entitled to increased damages and your attorney fees if, in fact, you are owed the money. An attorney could advise you on the strength of any potential claim.

Please note: any comments made on this website relate to general trends in law and are not to be understood as legal advice establishing a lawyer-client relationship. Please consult an attorney admitted in your jurisdiction before making any legal decisions. I am a licensed attorney only in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and in United States District Court for the District of Vermont. For more information about the New England Law Group, P.C. Please contact 401-316-0007 or

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In addition to a possible claim based on the commission agreement, you may also have a claim if you can show that the employer terminated you to prevent you from getting compensation that you already earned. In legal terms, this is a violation of the "covenant of good faith and fair dealing." Something else you should discuss with an attorney.

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