Is this legal?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is this legal?

I work a base pay commissions job.
When I got hired on a few months back
the company told me that I would make
commission on every sale. However, I
have not been paid commission in 8
weeks. When I ask questions, I get
excuses. One of the answers that I got
was that the policy had changed.
Myself nor my manager were aware of
this change until recently. I was told
that my commission is based off what
the store does. I have a personal daily
goal, but that isn’t what my commission
is based off of. It all depends on what
the store does. So if the person
working the shift before or after me
doesn’t do their job, I am punished.
Same being said with returns. A return
goes against our goal even if the item
wasn’t bought at our location. The fact
that me receiving the commission that I
earned is not fair in my eyes. The fact
that they lied to me when I was hired
seems illegal. What do I do?

Asked on August 12, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Fairness is irrelevant--an unfair commission structure is still enforceable. And a company may change the structure at any time, unless there is a written contract for a definite term (e.g. a one year contract) locking it in for a period of time.
HOWEVER, a change in compensation structure or policy is only effective from when it is announced forward; changes may not be made retroactively. Until a change is announced to an employee or all employees generally the old structure applies. So if they never told you about the new plan, you had to be be paid under the old plain until you were made aware of the new plan. If not, you could sue your employer for the difference between what you would have made under the old plan and what you did earn, up to the point or time at which you had notice of the new plan. Of course, suing your employer is a drastic step, and all lawsuits take time and cost money; it may or may not be worthwhile doing this.

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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