Top Florida Unpaid Commissions and Bonuses Attorney
Cantrell Zwetsch is one of few law firms that focuses its practice almost entirely on employment law, including the handling of claims for unpaid commissions and unpaid bonuses. Our firm model is unique in two ways. First, we purposefully limit the number of clients we represent in lawsuits at any time – that is the only way we can give each client’s case the time and resources they need to obtain the best possible result. Second, we focus on our core competencies, which include unpaid wage claims involving commissions or bonuses. If you are considering a Florida employment law firm to recover your unpaid commissions or bonuses, please give us a call at (800) 698-6650. Below provides an overview of Florida unpaid wage law concerning commissions and bonuses.
Florida Law on Unpaid Commission and Bonuses
In Florida, contract law protects an individual’s right to unpaid commissions and bonuses. Conceptually, the application of contract law to wages, which include commissions and bonuses, is simple: there is a mutual understanding between a worker and company that the worker will perform services in exchange for wages. Once the services are performed, the wages are considered earned and the worker has an absolute right to such wages. Simply put, an employee or independent contractor is entitled to all commissions or bonuses that are earned.
Disputes commonly arise in several contexts for commissions and bonuses. Specifically, commission disputes often arise concerning: (i) payment of commission tails post-termination; (ii) recategorizing new accounts as house accounts; and (iii) reducing or changing the commission percentage after sales were made. As to bonus disputes, they often arise concerning entitlement to bonuses post-termination, as well as withholding of bonuses under any “for cause” provision of an employment agreement.
The most common dispute concerns payment of commissions and bonuses post-termination. Under Florida law, commissions must be paid even after an employee’s or contractor’s work relationship ends with a company – absent a mutual understanding to contrary. This is common in industries where a sales producer obtains customers that pay for services or products on a monthly basis (e.g., insurance policies). There are several ways a company may ensure a mutual understanding is established that commission are not due post-termination. Common examples include:
- A signed employment agreement that contains clear language indicating no commissions are due post-termination.
- An acknowledged employee handbook or set of policies that includes a similar provision that no commissions are due post-termination. (Even here, however, an individual may still be entitled to post-termination commissions if the handbook or policy was not acknowledged by the individual.)
- The individual is clearly responsible for not only making the sale but also is also responsible for servicing the client.
Similarly, whether a bonus is due post-termination also depends on the understandings of the parties. Absent a written document providing otherwise, an earned bonus is due even if the pay date for such bonus would be post-termination.
As reflected above, whether an individual has a contractual right to commissions or bonuses is not always black and white and may require a careful analysis of all agreements, policies, practices, and other facts that may be evidenced in a case.
Attorney Fees are Recoverable for Unpaid Wages
Both unpaid commissions and bonuses are considered “unpaid wages” for purposes of Florida Statute § 448. That is important because that statute allows for the recovery of attorney’s fees if a party prevails in a civil action for unpaid wages. In some situations, liquidated damages (i.e., double the amount of wages due) may be recoverable under Florida Statute § 448.
Florida law allows for the recovery of attorney fees to incentivize attorneys to file and litigate unpaid wage lawsuits even if the amount of unpaid wages are relatively small. That incentive, in turn, motivates companies to ensure they properly calculate and timely pay wages, including commissions and bonuses.
Statute of Limitations
When is it too late to file a lawsuit under Florida law for unpaid commissions or bonuses? As set forth in Florida Statute § 95.11, the answer depends on the type of claim asserted:
- A claim for breach of contract has a four (4) years statute of limitation.
- A claim for unpaid wages under Florida Statute § 448 has a two (2) years statute of limitation.
Filing a lawsuit within the two-year statute of limitations is important to ensure that attorney fees are recoverable under Florida Statute § 448.
As a practical matter, a lawsuit should be filed as soon as possible after learning of unpaid commissions or bonuses. More delay generally results in memories fading and documents being deleted – both of which are not helpful when building evidence to win a case. Additionally, if the lawsuit seeks to recover unpaid commission tails, then each month of delay in filing the lawsuit may be an additional month of commissions that cannot be recovered.
Our Process for Unpaid Wage Claims
At Cantrell Zwetsch, we have spent years creating an effective and efficient process for obtaining full value of claims for unpaid commissions and bonuses. There is no pre-suit filing requirements in Florida for unpaid commissions or bonuses. As a best practice, however, a pre-suit demand letter is generally sent. If that letter does not resolve the claim, a lawsuit is quickly filed. We limit the number of unpaid wage claims we take on at any given time. That allows us to allocate the resources necessary to properly litigate each claim and, if needed, go to trial.
Simply put, we only take on cases for which we are willing to go to trial and believe we will win. We are also unique in that we don’t take a case with the idea of settling for pennies on the dollar. To the contrary: we often go to trial, or come close to trial, because we are determined to recover full value for a client’s claim.
What to Look for in a Florida Unpaid Commissions and Bonuses Attorney
When looking for a Florida unpaid commissions or bonuses lawyer, you are encouraged to compare the background of the Florida lawyers you are considering. Apart from subject matter experience, consider the educational background, past results, and what references say about their own experiences. At Cantrell Zwetsch, our attorneys hail from top law schools and have graduated near the top of their classes. Each of our attorneys are committed to working tirelessly on behalf of our clients, striving for an effective and efficient outcome. We are glad to share references. If you are considering an unpaid wage attorney in Florida, consider Cantrell Zwetsch.
Finally, when vetting for an unpaid commissions or bonus attorney, select one who cares! At Cantrell Zwetsch, we purposely make unpaid wage claims one of our few core practice areas. Why? Because we believe not paying someone for their services is not only unlawful but is simply unacceptable. We are here to represent you because we care.
We handle unpaid wage disputes throughout Florida, including Boynton Beach, Cape Coral, Clearwater, Coral Springs, Davie, Deerfield, Delray, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Meyers, Gainesville, Hialeah, Hollywood, Homestead, Jacksonville, Key West, Kissimmee, Lakeland, Largo, Lauderhill, Miami, Miramar, North Port, Orlando, Palm Bay, Pembroke, Pensacola, Pompano, Sarasota, St. Pete, Tallahassee, Tampa, West Palm Beach, and Weston.
Other Practice Areas
Cantrell Zwetsch is a litigation boutique with subject matter expertise in employment law, non-compete and unfair competition disputes, and business disputes. Common examples of disputes concerning employment law we handle include unpaid wages and overtime, discrimination on the basis of sex, race, age, or religion, employee benefits, family and medical leave, hostile work environment, and retaliation. The attorneys at our law firm have handled a significant number of sexual harassment cases, representing both employers, employees, and third parties. Knowing ahead of time the strategies that the other party will likely use enables us to represent you more effectively and with confidence. Please visit the firm’s litigation practice areas for more details on the type of disputes we handle and examples of past results.