Employee Prevails In Unpaid Commission Case

The U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts has awarded a former employee of Grove Services, Inc. $325,556 in unpaid commissions.

United States District Court, District of Massachusetts

SUMMARY: (court decision – opens in PDF)

“Paulo Trindade (‘Plaintiff’) brought this action against his former employer Grove Services, Inc. (‘Grove’) and its President, Victor Spivak (‘Spivak,’ together ‘Defendants’), alleging breach of contract and violations of the Massachusetts Wage Act (‘Wage Act’), Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, §§148–50, in connection with commissions allegedly due to him under his employment contract from 2013 to 2016. …

“Plaintiff contends that for each year from 2014 to 2016, Defendants failed to compensate him in accordance with the Agreement in some way or another and that he is entitled to contract damages in the amount of $441,418 for all three years including $287,839.00 for 2015, $146,538.00 for 2016, and $7,041.00 for 2014. … If Defendants are found liable under both Wage Act counts, Plaintiff asserts that he is entitled to $763,170.00 in trebled damages for unpaid 2016 commissions and $863,517.00 in trebled damages for unpaid 2015 commissions. …

“Defendants respond that (1) the Wage Act claims are time-barred and that Plaintiff has (2) failed to prove that Grove underpaid his 2014 commissions, (3) failed to establish damages for the 2016 commission payments, and (4) failed to prove that any commissions were due to him for 2015. …

“For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds that Defendants are liable for breach of contract and Wage Act violations for unpaid commissions for calendar years 2014 and 2016 and that Plaintiff is entitled to $330,597.00 in resulting damages. … “The Court further finds that Plaintiff has not proven by a preponderance of the evidence that he was owed any commissions in 2015. …

“For the reasons discussed above, the Court finds that Grove did not breach the Agreement for the year 2015 and that, for 2016, Grove is liable for breach due to late-paid commissions and the 401(k) contribution, but not due to additional lost wages because Plaintiff has not provided sufficient evidence of damages — and the standard for common law breach of contract is even more demanding.

“Plaintiff also brings breach of contract claims for late payment of wages in 2014 and another alleged improper 401(k) deduction from his sales commission in 2014. Because Plaintiff has failed to provide any evidence of damages incurred as a result of Plaintiff’s late payment of the 2014 commissions, he is not entitled to judgment on that claim.

“The Court does, however, find that Grove again breached the Agreement by making an improper deduction from his sales commission to fund his 401(k), this time in the amount of $7,041.00. …

“Pursuant to the findings above, the Court finds that Plaintiff is entitled to $107,852.00 in unpaid or late wages for 2016. This number is subject to mandatory trebling under the Wage Act, see Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, §150; McGrath v. City of Somerville, 419 F. Supp. 3d 233, 262 (D. Mass. 2019), bringing the total to $323,556.00, plus reasonable attorney’s fees and costs. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, §150. Plaintiff is further entitled to $7,041.00 in damages resulting from the breach of contract related to his 2014 wages. …

“For the reasons discussed herein, Plaintiff is entitled to recover for Defendants’ Wage Act violations and breaches of contract. …”



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