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  • California commision reductions California

    I am a salary plus commission outside sales rep. I have no formal written contract,only emails documenting my agreed upon wages and commission structure.

    2 days ago I received (along with the rest of the sales force) a letter vaguely outlining the company’s new commission plan. There are virtually no details to this new plan and I have concerns about how it will be interpreted. It is worded in such a way that I believe my employer could find ways to withhold commission based on the general verbiage. I have asked for clarification and specifics but have been ignored and have been instructed to sign and return within 2 days.
    The new plan unilaterally cuts all Sales Reps commissions in half. I will only receive 50% commission on any business I win and my CSR (who process the orders) will now receive my other half.
    I understand that pay and commissions can be cut without consent or agreement. Is it legal to take half of my commission to pay another employee to do their job?
    The CSR already earn a wage (salary or hourly).
    We are being told if we do not sign and return the agreement, we can walk out the door.

    Any advice or suggestions?

  • #2
    Easy stuff first. Read the following and see if you qualify for the federal DOL's Outside Sales rules. If necessary read this more then once. This is a very good thing to be very sure about. If you fail this test, then under federal law, you must be paid (at least) minimum wage) and overtime (if applicable).

    And yes I know you are in CA. The CA laws are in addition to the federal laws, not instead of, and the federal laws (in this area) are easier to read and understand. If you pass the federal Outside Sales classification rules, then your next step is to look at the CA rules for the same thing. This is a PDF download. You will need to read chapter 34 and chapter 55 starting around 55.9.

    If the feds and CA both agree that you are outside sales and you have no contract/policy/agreement, then your options get bleak. Read chapter 34, but that mostly says look at the agreement (which does not exist). You can always try filing a wage claim, CA is a good state for that, especially when the employer seems to be playing games.

    HOWEVER at some point, the best/only cure for a bad employer is to find a good employer.
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)