California Employment Law
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Unfortunately, the law does not require that your employer pay you hourly for non-selling work. The law simply requires that your commissions each pay period, when divided by the number of hours you work, equal or exceed minimum wage plus any applicable overtime. In theory, they could have you perform 39 hours of non-selling work and 1 hour of selling work, and if that one hour of selling work brought you up above minimum wage they would be in compliance with the law.
Thus, this is not really a legal issue but more an issue of fair compensation. If you believe that you are not being paid fairly for your work because you are not getting enough selling opportunity, you can complain to your employer and/or seek alternative employment on better terms. That would be the extent of your recourse under the circumstances.
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Not quite. The catch is that if your commissions equal less than minimum wage plus applicable overtime for the hours you worked, your employer must make up the difference. For example, CA minimum wage is $9 an hour. If you worked 40 hours in a pay period and only made $100 in commissions, your employer would need to pay you an additional $260. This is the different between minimum wage for 40 hours ($360) less the $100 you earned in commissions, thus bringing you up to what minimum wage requires.
If this happens regularly, it may not be a job you want to keep because you can probably make more elsewhere. But it is not involuntary servitude--you are free to leave for better work at any time--and you cannot sue your employer if they are paying you at least this minimum amount. It is an issue of adequate compensation but it is not a legal issue.
I hope this clarifies things. Again, please feel free to let me know if you have any further concerns.
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