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thanks for the question.
as far as the verbal agreement about the commissions, you certainly have a claim and can sue for those commissions. as you can imagine, verbals are harder to prove than written but it would be an easier process to prove if you had regularly received commissions in the past and can show eviedence of that fact and of the fact that it is part of your compensation structure.
as far as the clients contacting you directly, unless you have a non-compete clause, you can absolutely work with them. even if there is a non-compete, there is a good chance that would be rendered null and void upon your being laid off and, if you are in California, it would be null and void anyway as those agreements are genraly not enforcebale in CA.
all in all, unless you present additional facts that change things, you should pursue a claim against your employer for the commissions and ABSOLUTELY work with clients. it may be a great way to start your own business!!!
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