If you leave your job while you are waiting for a bonus payment or a commission, you may be concerned that you will not receive it. You might think that it might be hard for you to collect your bonus or commission payment after you have left your job. It may seem even less likely if you left because you were terminated by your employer.
How the law will govern the payment of your expected commission or bonus after you leave your job will be impacted by the circumstances of what happened. It is important for you to understand that you may not have to forfeit the bonuses or commissions that you have earned simply because you no longer work for the company. Here is what the legal team at Swartz Swidler believes that you should know about your rights as governed by the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law.
What the WPCL protects
Under the WPCL, workers who are owed wages by their former and current employers are protected. Wages under the law include the following:
- Your normal pay
- Your commissions
- Your bonuses
- Your reimbursements for expenses
- Your fringe benefits that haven’t been used
You must be able to show that you have a right under a contract to receive the wages that you are owed under the WPCL. However, how the contract is formed is flexible. While a written contract should definitely satisfy the requirement, a written policy from the company that details its pay practices and how benefits are disbursed may also be enough. You may also establish a contract by showing the company’s past history.
The importance of timing
Bonuses may be considered to be discretionary payments and thus more difficult to collect unless the company has a history that clearly demonstrates its practices with paying them. Since commissions are normally based on your sales, they might be easier to calculate. The date that the commissions are earned may vary depending on the company’s practices. If there isn’t a written agreement that delineates when commissions are earned, you might rely on the company’s past payment practices to make the determination.
Other factors under the WPCL
The WPCL specifies that workers who are able to prove that they have legitimate claims under the law may also be able to recover attorneys’ fees. Workers may also be able to recover penalties if their former employers withheld compensation without having a good faith reason. In the event of a dispute, the employers are still required to pay the amounts that are not in dispute within a reasonable period of time. Finally, the law lets plaintiffs name certain key decision-making employees within the company as parties in the lawsuits if they were responsible for the withholding of the owed pay.
Contact Swartz Swidler
If you believe that your former employer owes you money, you should seek legal advice. Contact the employment attorneys at Swartz Swidler today by filling out our contact form.