Commissions and Parole Agreements

I am working under what amounts to a parole agreement to be paid commissions of 11% on sales in a retail/construction business. The original proposal I signed and returned to my employer crossing out two elements I would not agree with: a quota and the subtraction of my salary from my commission payments. No further paperwork was presented to me after this until it came time for my employer to begin paying my commissions. I did, however, agree to be paid at completion of the project not after the sale.

She then tried to enforce the quota and subtract my salary for the commission payment.

Two questions:
1) Am I completely up the creek without a written agreement?
2) If I quit (which I will be financially forced to do) is there any way to collect the commissions for jobs sold but not completed?

1 answer  |  asked Aug 20, 2006 5:45 PM [EST]  |  applies to New York

Answers (1)

David M. Lira
Is there a contract?

In law school, students typically learn about the problem of duelling forms, the situation where two parties keep sending each other forms with slightly differing terms. Students are taught about the duelling forms because it points out the difficulty that sometimes exists in determining whether the parties have entered into a contract.

Generally, there is no contract until the parties of expressed an intention to be bound by the terms of an agreement. Usually, that happens when the parties sign a paper. Sometimes, it might be expressed by actions.

I don't know whether you have a binding agreement. I would need to know more.

I can tell you this: if you don't have a provable agreement, you are an employee at will, subject to whatever terms the employer decides to apply, whenever the employer decides to apply them.

But note, pay and salary are generally accorded special protection under both federal and state law. These protections come from statutes, not case law. Pay and salary would include commissions. Generally, if you have earned your pay, it cannot be taken away from you.

posted by David M. Lira  |  Aug 22, 2006 09:53 AM [EST]

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