Can an employer refuse to pay commissions after an employee resigns?

UPDATED: Oct 12, 2010

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Can an employer refuse to pay commissions after an employee resigns?

I am a commissioned sales associate. Last week I gave my 2-week notice and all off my accounts were reassigned. I have signed contracts and outstanding commissions that according to the research I’ve done are due to me as the jobs come to fruition. My ex-boss tells me that according to their lawyer they don’t owe me anything. Also they’re asking for my password to a Yahoo e-mail used for personal and work’ they are threatening to hack it. What should my course of action be?

Asked on October 12, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

1) Re: the account--they have no right to your personal account, and if they "hack it," they've commiitted a felony. They can require you to turn over to them all work-related messages that you currently have; and they can--and probably should--offer you some compensation for forwarding future work messages (e.g. from clients) to them rather than simply ignoring them as would be your right.

2) Whether or not they have to pay your commission depends on the terms under which you worked. It would legal, for example, for the terms of a sales associate's representation to be that he or she is not commissioned fo any pending or outstanding sales one he or she resigns. (And it's also legal that he or she would be paid.) If there are no terms in any agreement, letter, memo, etc. to that effect, you could look, if possible, to what was done previously when reps left to see what terms were implicitly ratified by company behavior. If there's no guidance from past behavior and no agreement or terms, if you and the company can't work something out, you may need to consider suing them to get what you feel you deserve; in that case, you should speak with an employment attorney who can evaluate the strength of your case.

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 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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