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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 7632
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I was hired as a Vacation Rental Property Manager and also

Customer Question

I was hired as a Vacation Rental Property Manager and also did cleans for the property. I had an emergency (husband had asthma attack and went to hospital via ambulance) and I was not able to go myself and do the clean. I found someone to go (this was 1am) and was an acquaintance of my husband. Items were missing after the clean was done and I was charged for the items ($500 for clothing that were the guests staying at property), $200 for the Owner of the properties time on the phone, re-keying of the entire house, $100.00 for flowers sent to the guest from Owner. My commission for the guests staying at the property was reduced from 17% to 10% and my next commission for the next guest checking in to property was reduced as well from 17% to 12% because another person checked them in. I received no documentation on any of these charges. Basically $1500 was taking out of my paycheck. The Owner does have homeowners insurance and we do advise that the renters purchase renters insurance for their stay. I could understand (almost) to be asked to pay the deductibles...but am I responsible for paying all money for the lost or stolen?? items? For the flowers sent? This amount ($1500) was 10% of my annual pay. The Owner's will also take 2 weeks to 3 months to pay me after services rendered. Any recourse there? Thank you for your time!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. I am very sorry to hear about these deductions. To be clear, were the commission adjustments in addition to the deductions from your wages for the theft? If not, what was the basis for the adjustments?

I very much look forward to helping you on this matter.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Yes they were in addition to the $ 974 Total Spent on "cleaning theft". The 10% deduction was because of inconvenience to Owner and Guest and the 12% was done because I was told not to come and great the new arriving guest.

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Jaleen,

Thank you very much for your reply and clarification. These deductions are absolutely illegal pursuant to California law.

As a general matter, California law zealaously protects an employee's earned wages and permits forfeiture only in certain extremely limited circumstances. One such circumstance in which compulsory deductions from wages is permissible is in instances where an employee's gross negligence or willful misconduct cause harm to the employer.

While having someone fill in for you on a cleaning may, on some level, have constituted ordinary negligence, it in no way rises to the level of "gross negligence" (that's for things like crashing a company vehicle while under the influence of alcohol) and certainly does not constitute a willful actu of miscnoduct (i.e. taking a baseball bat to a company computer). Thus, while your employer would be free to discipline you for this incident (and even terminate you if they saw fit), they CANNOT deduct from wages you have already earned.

With regard to your commission adjustments, that too is illegal and constitutes a breach of contract. If employers could simply adjust commissions whenever they saw fit, commission agreements would have no meaning whatsoever, since payment would simply come down to what your employer "felt like" giving you.

You can obtain compensation for these wrongful deductions by filing a wage claim with the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement. To file a wage claim with the DLSE, visit this link: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/howtofilewageclaim.htm

Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes to you and thank you so much for coming to Just Answer.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 7632
Experience: Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
Patrick, Esq. and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


How long do I have to get back to you with any other thoughts? =) It is a bit over whelming for me as they have now fired me and only want to pay me 1/2 of my commission for the entire summer (8.5 %) and I have the property booked until Labor Day with my "guests" coming in and they have now hired another agency to do the walk-thru check-in process. Minimally, I feel they set a precedent when they paid me 12% commission for the same procedures being done with the incident that opened my asking for help.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.


How long will our posting be available to me for future reference by me?

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you very much for your reply.

Unfortunately, your employer has a right to reduce your commission percentage moving forward unless you have a contract which specifically guarantees you 12% for a set period of time (i.e. "Employee shall receive 12% for all commissions generated during 2013"). So, while your employer may not retroactively deduct from what you are owed for work already performed, they are generally free to adjust your compensation moving forward.

Your only argument that a prospective adjustment is illegal would be that your employer is making the adjustment in retaliation for you complaining about the unlawful retroactive deductions. Employers may not retaliate against employees who make efforts to enfroce their rights under the Labor Code. However, your employer will likely argue that they are not reducing your commission in "retaliation," but rather due to your mistake with regard to allowing the theft to occur. Whether or not this argument holds water would be up to a judge and may depend in part on whether you have evidence that you raised your concerns with regard to the impermissible deductions before you were notified of the prospective decrease in your commission percentage.

With regard to followup questions, rating me service (which is much appreciated by the way) will not close your question and you will be free to return at any time to obtain additional clarification. My answers will always remain accessible to you through your account for future reference.

I hope this helps and good luck to you.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


Please let me clarify again - I worked for last 8 months under 17% commission. Last Monday, June 3, 2013 I was fired and told I would received 8.5% commission. This is after I have the summer calendar filled with guests that I have been working with for last 8 months. The reduction to 8.5% is because I will not be doing the check-in/check-out procedure with each guest due to my termination. In the past they determined this type of change constituted a 12% commission -- now the want to reduce it to an 8.5% commission.

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
I believe I understand the situation, and I thank you very much for your further clarification. Employers in this circumstance are unfortunately free to reduce your commission prospectively, even if they are reducing it by a larger amount than would be customary, so my answer remains the same as above.

If I can be of any further assistance just let me know.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


Thank you very much for your time and help! I hope you have an enjoyable weekend.

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
You are very welcome. I hope you have a pleasant weekend as well. Thank you so much for coming to Just Answer.

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Patrick, Esq.
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