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Sales Commission Disputes

We have been helping sales executives resolve commission disputes for over 15 years. We focus on representing executives and employees who are owed sales commissions. Call us on NY: (347) 305-5294 or contact us to set up a consultation.

What is a Commission Dispute?

Commission disputes often involve former employees trying to recover unpaid commissions. Once a sales executive leaves a company, they often have a hard time getting paid on pending deals. The story of Gary Linder below will provide insight into how these disputes are resolved.

The Story of Gary Linder and His Unpaid Sales Commissions

Gary Linder sold home security systems for Innovative Commercial Systems (ICS). He worked for ICS for seven years and was paid by commission. A dispute arose after Gary left the company. He had several closed deals pending at the time he left, but ICS refused to pay him. Gary sued ICS for breach of contract.

In New York, once a sales commission is “earned,” its deemed a wage and cannot be forfeited and termination of employment would not affect an employee’s right to receive the commission. So the key issue in Gary’s case, as in many commission cases, is when was the commission “earned”?

When is a Sales Commission “Earned?”

Many companies have written commission agreements that explain when a commission is earned. But Gary’s company did not have an agreement, so it was not so easy to determine when his commission was earned. Gary argued that his commission was earned when he found a ready, willing and able buyer. Ordinarily, in the absence of a written commission agreement, a commission is deemed earned once the sales executive finds a qualified buyer who agrees to purchase. But there was a wrinkle in Gary’s case.

Gary and ICS had established a “course of dealing” over the years. In each case, Gary was not paid once he found a qualified buyer. Instead, Gary was only paid when the customer paid ICS. So the judge held that Gary and ICS had established a course of dealing and therefore his commission was not earned until the customer paid ICS.

This was bad news for Gary because the customers had not paid ICS at the time his employment with them ended. Therefore Gary’s commissions were not “earned” at the time he left and Gary was not able to recover the commissions.

How to Protect Your Right to Sales Commissions

The best way to protect yourself is to work for a company that has a reasonable written commission plan. The commission agreement will determine when your commissions are earned. Study the commission agreement so you understand how it works and avoid companies that impose unreasonable terms.

How to Handle a Commission Dispute

First, make sure you have a copy of the controlling commission agreement. Next, keep records of your transactions so you can demonstrate how you are typically paid. Finally, be sure to maintain detailed records of the commissions in dispute. It is much easier to resolve these disputes if the facts are established. If you cannot resolve the commission dispute yourself, contact an experienced employment law firm that knows how to handle these cases. You can contact us at (347) 305-5294.

Find Our New York Law Office

Our office is located at 401 Park Avenue South.

Take 26th Street from FDR Drive, or 28th Street from 12th Avenue to quickly reach our office from anywhere in Midtown. Please schedule an appointment before you visit our office location. Scheduling ahead of time will allow us to be better prepared to help you.

Ottinger Employment Lawyers
401 Park Ave S
New York, NY 10016
Phone: (347) 305-5294

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Contact us at (347) 305-5294 to see if we can help you. Directions to our NY Office.

Client Reviews
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Wonderful Experience working with the Ottinger Firm! I was upset and very emotional after losing my job. The attorneys at the firm were very patient, caring and knowledgeable. They fought for me and won! Candith J.
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Everybody at this firm was helpful, thorough, and knew what they were doing! They efficiently managed to get results. Any questions I had were answered with depth. The process in which they work made things feel very at ease when it came to the case I hired them for. I would highly recommend this firm! Christian S.
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I never hesitate to recommend Robert Ottinger to friends and family. He is thoughtful, responsive, realistic in managing expectations, an expert in employment law and really cares about helping people with their employment situations. I'm grateful for the help he has provided to me Amy Z.
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Thank you to the Ottinger firm for taking our case, fighting for us and getting positive results. When a business does not pay you what you are owed and you want results, The Ottinger firm is your go to! Robin H.