Employees in many industries are paid in whole or in part based on commissions. They are utilized in the sales, real estate, financial services, pharmaceutical, and private equities industries, as well as in any other industry in which sales are important. Whether an employer has fully paid commissions depends on the circumstances. In some situations, a commission is called a bonus, which is a lump sum of money paid at the end of a specific period. If you are concerned about unpaid commissions, you should retain an experienced Austin employment lawyer. At Wiley Walsh, P.C., our attorneys may be able to help you recover unpaid commissions to which you are entitled.Recovering Unpaid Commissions
Commissions are money owed based on individual sales or transactions executed for an employer. When bonuses are based on performance related to sales or transactions, they may be commissions as well. Although oral contracts are enforced in Texas, it can be helpful to have a written promise from your employer to pay commissions. The writing should specify when you earn a commission and whether you need to be employed through a specific date to receive it. The language should be specific because if the employer has discretion to deny you a commission or bonus, the company may be able to deny you a commission. Generally, if the language is vague, the law construes the lack of clarity against the side that drafted the contract.
There is evidence that you can present to establish that you have a right to a commission based on an oral contract. For example, if there is a documented history of an employer paying you a particular commission, you may be able to show that there was an implied contract to get a commission.
Texas employers have discretion to implement the terms of a commission plan. They may be able to modify the terms of the plan as well. However, they cannot interfere with an earned commission. For example, if your employer announced a change to the way that your commissions will be paid, and you resign before getting paid your existing commission, your employer should not be able to pay you less than what you earned under the prior agreement. However, whether you can recover damages depends on whether the prior commission plan was in writing, the terms of that plan, the plan's definition of when commissions are earned or accrue, any duties that you still needed to complete at the time that you left the employment, the employer's practice of paying commissions to departed employees, and whether you voluntarily resigned or were discharged with good cause.
Often, people who resign while there is still substantial work left on a customer's account are not able to recover commissions. People who are terminated involuntarily may be able to recover a pro rata share of the commission, depending on what was agreed and what is in writing. If the employer drafted the commission plan, any vague language will be construed against the employer.
You may be able to sue for breach of contract and fraud if you are denied commissions to which you are entitled. Even if there is no express written contract, you may be able to recover unpaid commissions under a theory of promissory estoppel or quantum meruit. To establish that you should recover unpaid commissions under promissory estoppel, you will need to show that there was a promise to pay a commission, your employer could foresee that you would rely on this promise, and you substantially relied on the promise to your detriment.Hire an Austin Attorney for Your Employment Dispute
If you have not been paid an earned commission, you should consult an Austin attorney to discuss your rights. The remedies and damages available depend on the specific circumstances. Wiley Walsh, P.C. represents people in Austin, Georgetown, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Pflugerville, Leander, Del Valle, Kyle, San Marcos, San Antonio, New Braunfels, and Fredericksburg, among other cities. Call us at (512) 271-5527 or use our online form to arrange an appointment. We also can help people who need an overtime attorney or assistance in getting unpaid wages in other forms.