Unpaid Commission Claim to Proceed

The U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts has denied an employer’s motion to dismiss an employee’s Wage Act claim to recover unpaid commissions, finding that the Plaintiff’s allegations sufficiently alleged the commissions were definitely determined and due and payable.

United States District Court of Massachusetts

SUMMARY: (court decision – opens in PDF)

“Plaintiff Christine Rivard (‘Plaintiff’ or ‘Rivard’) is a former sales employee at NICE Systems, Inc. (‘NICE’ or ‘Defendant’). … Rivard asserts that upon her departure from NICE, she was owed almost $60,000 in commissions which were not paid to her on her last day. … She argues that NICE’s failure to pay that commission represents a violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149 (‘Wage Act’), which mandates treble damages for a violation. … NICE has moved to dismiss the claim, arguing that the terms of Rivard’s contract mean that the outstanding commissions she seeks were not sufficiently finalized for their payment to have been required under the Wage Act. …

“… Rivard earned commissions on her sales both when her clients signed the contract and when invoices were sent. … The details describing how she earned those commissions were set forth in NICE’s ‘2021 Sales Incentive Plan – Enterprise and Public Safety’ (‘Incentive Plan’ or ‘Plan’). …

“Rivard asserts that NICE violated the Wage Act by failing to pay approximately $60,000 for commissions that she was owed. … She claims that those commissions were due and payable, that they were calculable, that there were no unsatisfied contingencies that she had to complete, and that she was simply waiting for the invoices to be sent. … NICE argues that the terms of the Incentive Plan conflict with Rivard’s allegations and that Rivard fails to state a claim under the Wage Act because the Incentives she refers to are not definitely determined or due and payable. …

“The allegations in Rivard’s complaint plausibly state a claim for a violation of the Wage Act because the commissions she is owed can be definitely determined and were due and payable. …

“Defendant’s arguments may succeed at summary judgment when the facts have made clear the application of the Incentive Plan to the commissions, as well as the nature of Rivard’s outstanding obligations. At this stage however, Rivard has plausibly alleged that she had done all the work she was obliged to do, that the amount she is owed can be definitely determined, and that NICE’s obligation to pay her had been triggered.”



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