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Employer playing games with my quarterly bonus
Old 10-09-2018, 01:59 AM   #1
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Employer playing games with my quarterly bonus

I have been in sales with my current company for over 12 years. Never had many problems with my commissions/bonus. Recently got a new manager, and getting commissions/bonus is becoming a challenge.

A little background: They set our targets Jan 1 of each year. If we go over for the quarter, we get a bonus. Last quarter I went over, but initially was told I did not. I fought it (had documentation for my numbers), and got a bonus, but it was a few thousand dollars (in my estimation) short.

This quarter, they only sent out documentation for one month, so I have no concrete method to audit the numbers fully, but I am over by a significant amount (5 figure bonus). They are claiming they owe me less (again). In addition, they bumped my quarterly target up several hundred thousand dollars, which obviously reduces the bonus . This has never happened previous, as I said, our targets are set at the beginning of the year.

I am not sure what path I should take on this. The manager seems well liked at executive level. Manager always blames corporate incompetence as to why the numbers are wrong (In mgr's defense, we have had some turnover in that dept). It's almost like this has become a negotiation process to get paid every quarter. It shouldn't be like this.

Do I need to get an attorney involved? Dept. of Labor? Any suggestions?
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Old 10-09-2018, 02:15 AM   #2
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You're in a difficult situation. Bring in an outside counsel or go to the Dept. of Labor and you should be executing an exit strategy. Advice is hard on such little info. But there are always channels to go through even if means going over a sales manager's head. I'm sure they're not wanting to lose sales producers. I'm sure you're not the only one this is happening to.
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Old 10-09-2018, 02:31 AM   #3
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Thanks Bamaman.

An exit strategy is not outside the realm of my thoughts.
Manager has already lost one older producer 2 months ago due to similar circumstances.

The conspiratorial portion of my mind thinks they are doing this on purpose, so they can get rid of a few older producers, and bring in fresh faces (at a discount).
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Old 10-09-2018, 03:16 AM   #4
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You may be right. My MegaCorp overreacted to the economic conditions of 2008, and threw a great retirement package at every 55 year old or 30 year employee. They're trying to run a $15 billion company with too many subcontracted job tasks. It all started when they bought a competitor and merged. Too much experience lost at once is just not good. Good luck to you.
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Old 10-09-2018, 04:09 AM   #5
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  1. Resign
  2. Hire an Attorney

In that order. Make sure you take all relevant information with you before your resign as you may be escorted out the door by Security. Bonus targets, sales achieved, bonus calculation formulas, bonuses paid, names and numbers of all contacts, etc. The company may 'wipe' your phone and computer to prevent this data from leaving their premises so download everything electronic in advance.

They are stealing from you, don't be afraid to defend yourself.
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Old 10-09-2018, 04:43 AM   #6
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As a former SVP of a large organisation, I'd say that just hinting at outside counsel
" ....my attorney says...." or "I hope I don't have to get my lawyer involved" gets management to snap to.

I'd sit down with the boss, lay out your claim and hint at going nuclear. Be prepared for it to be your last day but ... in my company it always got things back on track.
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Old 10-09-2018, 06:55 AM   #7
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Even if you get this quarter resolved, I would be surprised to not see you having to face similar issues every time ongoing.

In addition to any legal action, or hints thereof, I'd be looking for greener pastures. Getting paid what you earn should be the minimum requirement to stay in a job.
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Old 10-09-2018, 07:11 AM   #8
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I guess it’s too optimistic to think you could just ask for support documentation (full detailed support) of the calculations?

I think you’re screwed on the change of your target. I don’t think you’d have grounds to say that because they never changed a target mid year in the past that they aren’t able to do so now. However, did they change everyone’s target? If not, may be able to show some age discrimination. Then I’d be in an attorneys office immediately. Do you talk to your peers about this or is the target confidential and particular to each individual and like salary, confidential?
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Old 10-09-2018, 11:10 AM   #9
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Unless there is some official paperwork requiring that bonus then it is at the discretion of mgmt...


Back when I was working for Mega the powers that be wanted people to take on more work and started a bonus plan based on assets of trusts... if you took the account you got a bonus... they assigned me a BIG account based in France and I was to receive a bonus that was over 50% of my salary!!! Well, they decided that I did not 'earn' it and spread it around to anybody who touched that account...


I had zero standing to get any more even though I complained... you might be in the same situation...


One question... are they doing this to everybody or just you?
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Old 10-09-2018, 12:52 PM   #10
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Is there any formal, written documentation of this compensation practice? A contract? Company policy? Etc?

If so, then you might have a case.
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Old 10-09-2018, 03:51 PM   #11
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Start working an exit strategy prior to escalating. Don't be caught short.

Years ago, as a sales rep, I had a manager who would not sign off on bonus money. His boss, the VP called me on the quiet to tell me that he, the VP, had signed off on my bonus.

I also found out the reason why my sales manager was not signing off. Resentment. I was making more than he was even though he got a commission over ride on everything I and the other salespeople made.

I commenced a job search/exit strategy and left three or four month later. One of the best moves I ever made.
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Old 10-09-2018, 08:17 PM   #12
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Pulling in outside help (attorney) is the nuclear option, but it will get their attention. If you want to exit the company (and the industry), and make this your final hurrah, then go for it. If the company is big enough, you'll probably get something for it (though less than you might think). However, play this card carefully, as word does get around, and it can make it difficult to find a new job, if that's what you want. No, that's not fair, but as a hiring manager, if you hear about these things, you absolutely steer clear.

Any company with a comp plan has a clause that says they can change it whenever they want for whatever reason. Targets change all the time - that's completely normal. So, it's within their rights, most likely.

Bottom line: you have to make the decision if the juice is worth the squeeze.
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Old 10-10-2018, 02:08 AM   #13
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a) Start looking for another job;

b) Get you proofs and paperwork copied/ in order;

c) Quietly consult an attorney. There may be things he/she wants you to do BEFORE you indicate your intent to the employer.
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Old 10-10-2018, 03:42 AM   #14
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Is this happening to all sales people or just you?
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Old 10-10-2018, 08:29 AM   #15
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Thanks for all the replies.
I have scheduled a meeting with my mgr to go through the numbers. He claims it will be "worked out." Not holding my breath.

I have talked to 5 other reps. Only one other had the target quota increased, and he is discussing with his mgr as well.

I just read through the pay plan again, and saw this gem: "Adjustments can be made, up or down, on a quarterly basis."
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:01 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tgotch View Post
I just read through the pay plan again, and saw this gem: "Adjustments can be made, up or down, on a quarterly basis."
That's pretty normal for commission based comp plans, and the megacorp I worked at for 10 years was constantly changing quotas for the sales teams. Even if this weren't in writing though, it would still be legal for them to modify their comp plan at any time in ways that could affect your future earnings. They can give you a higher quota without increasing others' quotas, especially if you're exceeding your goals and your forecast is high. You'd have to find another colleague with very similar achievements and forecasts and show that you got a disproportionate increase compared to that person in order to prove any type of discrimination, so that's probably a nonstarter.

The thing they cannot legally do is to modify your salary retroactively. The difficulty comes in defining salary for this type of position. Earned commissions are considered to be part of your salary, so if you've been shorted on those, you have a very good case for getting that money. Bonuses that are based on quotas (e.g. if you are paid 10% of sales until you make 100% of quota and 15% after that) are usually also considered to be part of your salary, but any kind of discretionary or dependent bonus is not.

If your management won't work with you to get your full earned commission paid out, then your remedy is to file a wage claim with your state's equivalent of the Dept of Labor. You don't need an attorney to file a claim, but it would be a good ideal to consult one since this is a pretty complex situation.
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