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RobertJDFL, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 13890
Experience:  Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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My Texas employer of 4 years terminated me June 5, 2013. I

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My Texas employer of 4 years terminated me June 5, 2013. I was a their top salesperson (out of 4 reps) to date but a new VP of Sales as of a few weeks ago, terminated me stating he "was forming a new sales team and that I was not a good fit." No other information or explanation was provided. I was the only sales person terminated and do not understand his explanation seeing how much revenue (>$5M) I brought the company through my termination date. I am a 55 year old female, in good shape and health, and have good relationships with my clients so I'm stunned.

My former employer drafted a contract (8 pages) with numerous restrictions and statements that have me waiving my rights for any future law suits. They want me to sign a document that states a lie... that I resigned... which I suspect is so I'm unable to collect unemployment. They have offered me 4 weeks severance and will pay with my commission when I sign and submit this document in 7 days. I feel pressured to sign because I need the money, but I don't want to waive all my rights. Can they not pay me my commission, which I thought was a portion of my salary, if I don't sign this document? If need be, I would be willing to counteroffer with a contract that is fair to both my employer and I. I need to be employed and they are restricting me with this contract.
Thank you for your question.

They still have to pay you your final commission according to Section 61.04 of the Texas Payday law. As noted on the Texas Workforce Commission website:

If an employee is laid off, discharged, fired, or otherwise involuntarily separated from employment, the final pay is due within six (6) calendar days of discharge. If the employee quits, retires, resigns, or otherwise leaves employment voluntarily, the final pay is due on the next regularly-scheduled payday following the effective date of resignation.

It is further noted that Regular wages are due no later than the regularly-scheduled payday for an employee who resigned, and by the sixth calendar day for an employee who was laid off or discharged. The deadline for payouts of fringe benefits and other components of the pay, such as commissions and bonuses, is the same, unless a different payout schedule is provided in the wage agreement or policy relating to that particular component of the pay. In that case, the payment schedule outlined in the agreement or policy will determine the deadline for payment. In other words, if there was a policy that said commissions are paid once a month, for example, they could technically wait until the regular date of payment to give you that portion of your benefits.

As you describe it, however, it seems like the employer is trying to lump you waiving your rights to bring a possible lawsuit with your getting severance pay/commission.
They cannot withhold your commission by state law, but there is no entitled to severance pay under state or federal law -that is a matter of contract or employer policy. If you had a contract that guaranteed you severance pay, for example, or your employer routinely pays severance to employees, then an argument exists that you should receive it.

I would defintely not sign anything until you have an employment lawyer look over the agreement and give you their opinion. While Texas is an "at will" employment state, meaning absent an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement, which may have given you more rights, an employee may be terminated at any time, for any reason, or no reason at all (they don't have to be given an explanation) so long as it is not done for unlawful purposes. Thus, for example, if you were terminated due to your race, religion, age, sex, disability or national origin, that may be grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

They have already scheduled me to receive my first severance check the next payday, which is Wednesday. Does accepting this payment imply my acceptance of the contract since both the severance and commission are listed together? The HR Manager says if they don't receive the signed contract they will figure I am forfeiting both severance and commission. This seems unfair to pressure me to sign. Shall I tell them to hold the severance until I review the contract with a Labor Attorney?


Thank you for your reply.

If you were to accept the check, I think an argument could be made that your are through your actions, acknowledging acceptance of their terms. I would definitely tell them that you are entitled to the full 7 days to review the agreement and to not issue you any severance until such time a local labor attorney has been able to review the agreement and advise you accordingly, yes. They don't have to give you more than the 7 days to have the agreement reviewed, unfortunately.
RobertJDFL and 3 other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Robert...meant to mentioned you were searching for a local labor attorney that can review my contract and respond with counter contract (if applicable). Will you be emailing that to me? I live in Dallas, TX.


Thank you for your advice.


Perhaps you misunderstood what I meant. I was saying that yes, you should not accept any severance until you have had a local labor attorney review the severance agreement. Site rules actually prohibit us from recommending or refering a customer to a particular lawyer or firm.

However, I would recommend you contact the Texas Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service. Their number is 800) 252-9690 or (877) 9TEXBAR (Toll Free), Monday - Friday, CST, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. They can help people a lawyer in over 240 counties in Texas, and if they do not cover the county that you need, they will find you a service that can help you. You just need to call them and tell them what county, and the type of lawyer you need (labor and employment). Through this service, the lawyer they recommend will charge you an initial consultation fee for the first ½ hour of his or her time. This ½ hour fee will be no more than $20.

If you wanted to look up lawyers this weeked on your own, I would recommend, which has lawyer ratings and reviews.