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Is it legal for an employer to take you out of your commission based department during work hours?

Rosaisela Aguirre's Profile

I am a Commission + Base sales associate at Sears. I was recently asked to leave my commission-able department to assist in an area in which i would not make sales. I was asked and said no, and further expressed my concern of " moving me out of my commission-able department would take away any opportunity to sell and would negatively affect my income" I was then threatened with an accusation of insubordination. I expressed to management i was aware what insubordination is and i did not feel as though i was being insubordinate by expressing my concerns. I did as was asked and helped customers outside of my commission-able department. Almost immediately i was called downstairs. I was then taken into a dimly lit office of the store manager and felt threatened for expressing my concerns. I admit perhaps i could have lead with my concerns rather than saying no, but that is just semantics at this point. I was told i had an attitude, Where i felt i was speaking very professionally in expressing again my concerns of the management limiting my ability to make commissions( this is the main source of income) and i expressed i felt as though i could have open lines of communication with management. This experience of course has made me feel otherwise. I was asked to clock out for the day, hand over my name tag, and i would get a call with the next steps. ( i assume they need to talk to HR). Im curious what my rights are. I was accused of not being a team player, I would disagree as i did indeed take customers and limit myself from commission-able sales as well as when i was on boarded i helped in multiple departments. I was told other commission departments did what was asked of them and worked outside their commission-able departments. Im lucky this is not my only source of income and i rather work retail because i love working amongst people and customer service. I have heard from other team members their complaint about this same matter, But ofcourse cannot say anything to management out of fear they would be terminated. A threat i have personally experienced. If you have any advice and/or links to websites referencing my dilemma please let me know. Thank You in advance


Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

Based on what you wrote, there is no problem with what your employer is doing unless you have a job description which explicitly states they will not ask you to work in a non-commissioned based area. But most job descriptions contain common language such as, "all other tasks as assigned." This last phrase provides employers with much latitude in their assignments.

Your statement, "I was told other commission departments did what was asked of them and worked outside their commission-able departments" and "I have heard from other team members their complaint about this same matter." These two sentences show that you are not unfairly being singled out.

I do not believe you have a choice, if you wish to stay with that employer.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

I think the only complaint (and one that would not go through governmental administrative departments or the Courts), which should be voiced to senior management is the way your were treated, which, based solely on your description ("brought to a dimly lit office..."); just is not professional (assuming all the offices are not dimily lit).

Will your complaint get any traction - possibly, but for you - I doubt it.

I believe its time to seek alternative sources of income.

Topic Expert
Karoline Mello
Title: Director, FP&A
Company: Apollo Group
(Director, FP&A, Apollo Group) |

You caught my attention with “dimly lit room”. I think you should contact HR and ask about the policies rather than waiting for them to contact you. While I can see your point of view that your commission earning rights may have been infringed, you aren’t commission only. Your company also has customer service goals that will often trump retail employee’s working preferences during the holidays. Best of luck to you!

Topic Expert
Malak Kazan
Title: VP, Special Projects
Company: ERI Economic Research Institute
(VP, Special Projects, ERI Economic Research Institute) |

Rosasiela, service industries rely on a flexible workforce to ensure the customer experience is not compromised. At times the temporary reassignments you described should be expected. Employee relations issues need to be resolved / diffused in a private setting and based on your statements there needs to be a discussion to understand why it was handled in the manner it was and the effect it had on you. At the end of the day, if you want to turn this situation around and get back to having a financially rewarding part-time position at Sears, clear the air with individuals involved and if necessary have HR facilitate the discussion.


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