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socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 38901
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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Im an outside salesman; in 2009 my boss cut my salary and

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I'm an outside salesman; in 2009 my boss cut my salary and commission plan down quite a bit (after coming right back from cancer). He set impossible goals, however I achieved and exceeded them and have been getting great bonuses the last year. So now he wants to cut and change my bonus plan again, and basically make it so my sales will plummet. He says "he's my boss and can do whatever he wants," even saying he doesn't require my signature on the new agreement, because it's not an employment contract. My customers can't stand him, all the other employees hate him and he harasses everyone. Is there ANYTHING I can do??

Sorry for the delay, but I was out of the office most of yesterday -- this is the first that I've seen of your question.

A commission policy is an implied employment contract, because when you perform in reliance on the terms of the policy, you are thus entitled to compensation based upon that policy -- under the legal doctrine known as "contract by promissory estoppel." So, your boss is wrong here as a matter of law -- your signature is not required to make a contract, concerning your already earned sales commissions. All you need is a copy of the policy and proof that you were paid under that policy in the past.

However, once a new policy is set forth in writing, if the employee continues to work for the employer after having notice of the policy, then a new contract by promissory estoppel is created, and the employer and employee are bound by that new contract.

As far as what you as an employee can do, the answer is, regrettably, that under Labor Code 2922, your employer can terminate your modify your employment "at will," at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all -- except for discrimination based upon race, color, nationality, ancestry, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, equal pay between sexes, age or disability -- or, where you are terminated for following a well-established public policy (e.g., jury duty, report of employer's alleged criminal activities to law enforcement, etc.).

BotXXXXX XXXXXne, if you don't like the commission plan, and you don't see unlawful discrimination or public policy violation, then dust off your resume and move on, before your driven crazy.

Note that any change of employment contract which effectively reduces an employee's wages by at least 20% would permit the employee to quit and still obtain unemployment benefits. Anything less risks a denial of UI benefits.

Hope this helps.

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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for the response, it clears up a lot of confusion. I (and probably about 50% of the population) will have to hope that laws against "bullying" in the workplace will be put into effect in the near future. Then perhaps we will have recourse when not treated like a human being.

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