Employee Rights, Sales Organizations

The rights of employees and sales organizations to recover their wages and commissions are zealously guarded by New York State. In 1981, Amos Weinberg won a case, published in the official law books, holding that an employer may not avoid payment of wages, or compensation, on the ground that the employee had not properly performed. To permit an employer to withhold payment by contending that the work was improper violates New York’s law prohibiting any deduction from wages, not agreed by the employee and for the employee’s benefit.

Sales people are guarded by several provisions of the Labor Law, including the following:

§ 191-a (d) “Sales representative” means a person or entity who solicits orders in New York state and is not covered by subdivision six of section one hundred ninety and paragraph (c) of subdivision one of section one hundred ninety-one of this article because he or she is an independent contractor, but does not include one who places orders for his own account for resale.

§ 191-b. Contracts with sales representatives.

1. When a principal contracts with a sales representative to solicit wholesale orders within this state, the contract shall be in writing and shall set forth the method by which the commission is to be computed and paid.

2. The principal shall provide each sales representative with a signed copy of the contract. The principal shall obtain a signed receipt for the contract from each sales representative.

3. A sales representative during the course of the contract, shall be paid the earned commission and all other monies earned or payable in accordance with the agreed terms of the contract, but not later than five business days after the commission has become earned.

In 2011, New York State enacted the Wage Theft Prevention Act, strictly requiring all employers to provide written agreements of the terms of employment and allowing the employee to get payment of an automatic penalty if the employer fails to do so:

The New York Wage Theft Prevention Act amends New York State Labor Law Section 195. The new law is effective April 9, 2011. The goal of the new law is intended to protect employees from wage theft by their employers. The new law applies to all private employers and there is no minimum employee threshold.

The law requires that a notice be given to NEW HIRES and another ANNUAL NOTICE to be given to all other existing employees. New hires must receive the notice at the time of hire. Existing employees must receive the notice annually on or before February 1 of each year. The New York State Department of Labor should be issuing template notices; however, as of this time, it has not issued samples.