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Commission Pay for Employees: Structuring Agreements and Defending Claims Absent a Contract

Leveraging Plaintiff and Defense Theories in Unpaid Commission Claims

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will provide guidance to employment counsel for structuring commission pay agreements that minimize the likelihood of unpaid commission claims. The panel will also discuss plaintiff and defense theories in this often misunderstood area of the law.


Unpaid commission claims are common, as more and more employees are being paid on a commission basis. In many cases, however, commission agreements are insufficient or non-existent. Ambiguous and insufficient arrangements often lead to disputes that can be costly for both employers and employees.

If a court finds that an employer failed to pay earned commission to a worker, the court, in some instances, can double or triple damages and award substantial attorney fees. It can also result in state enforcement of unpaid commissions. As such, a solid written commission agreement between the parties is imperative.

Employers' counsel must be equipped with the substantive tools to prepare a commission agreement that helps employers avoid costly litigation and damages. Counsel representing employees paid on commission must understand the theories upon which unpaid commission claims can be pursued.

Listen as our distinguished panel discusses effective drafting techniques for commission agreements, including key provisions on termination, draws and overtime requirements. The panel will provide plaintiff and defense trial theories and techniques.



  1. Drafting commission agreements
    1. How and when is the commission earned
    2. Termination
    3. Allowable deductions
    4. Draws
    5. Overtime requirements
    6. Documenting changes in the commission agreements
  2. Plaintiff theories and techniques
    1. Claims against employer
    2. Written discovery strategies
    3. Special considerations deposing the employer and 30(b)(6) depositions
    4. Deposing co-workers
    5. Use of experts in calculating damages
    6. Special concerns
  3. Defense theories and techniques
    1. Protecting trade secrets in litigation
    2. Defenses against claims
    3. Deposing the employee
  4. Interaction with federal and state statutes


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What are the key provisions in a commission agreement?
  • When and how are commissions considered earned?
  • What are successful theories upon which an employee may seek unpaid commissions?
  • What are successful defense theories to a claim of unpaid commissions?


Koss, Natalie
Natalie M. Koss

Managing Partner
Potomac Legal Group

Ms. Koss actively litigates both commercial and employment cases and has successfully negotiated settlement agreements...  |  Read More

Elisaveta (Leiza) Dolghih
Elisaveta (Leiza) Dolghih

Godwin Bowman & Martinez

Ms. Dolghih concentrates her practice on a broad range of business and employment litigation matters, with a focus on...  |  Read More

Clint D. Robison
Clint D. Robison


Mr. Robison is an experienced employment attorney, providing counseling, litigation and risk management services....  |  Read More

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