Nebraska Sales Representatives’ Commissions Statutes
Independent manufacturers’ sales representatives are typically hired by manufacturers, distributors, and importers to solicit orders for their products from potential customers in designated territories in exchange for a sales commission. Such sales representatives often spend many months or years building up a customer base in their assigned territory and incur substantial up-front sales and marketing expenses that can include travel, lodging, entertainment, and trade show expenses with the hope of generating a stream of future commission income. The sales representative is vulnerable if the principal suddenly terminates their relationship and/or fails to pay all commissions owed to the sales rep.
In response to these concerns, starting in the 1980s and 1990s, many states enacted statutes to protect the interests of these independent manufacturers’ sales representatives. These statutes often:
• Require the sales representative agreement to be in writing;
• Require the principal to provide a copy of the written contract to the sales rep;
• Require the principal to pay the sales rep for all commissions owed promptly following termination (or incur liability for statutory penalties, attorney’s fees, and court costs);
• Strictly limit the circumstances under which the principal can terminate, or fail to renew, a sales representative agreement (e.g., requiring the manufacturer to have “good cause” for termination); and/or
• Prohibit the principal from imposing terms (such as choice of law or exclusive venue provisions) in the sales rep agreement that would effectively require the sales rep to waive its statutory protections under the law.
Thirty-five of the fifty states have enacted some form of sales rep protection legislation.
This article sets forth the text of Nebraska’s laws protecting independent manufacturers’ sales representatives, as of January 1, 2023.
The Nebraska Wage Payment and Collection Act
Nebraska Statutes, Neb. Rev. St. § 48-1299
For purposes of the Nebraska Wage Payment and Collection Act, unless the context otherwise requires:
(1) Employee means any individual permitted to work by an employer pursuant to an employment relationship or who has contracted to sell the goods or services of an employer and to be compensated by commission. Services performed by an individual for an employer shall be deemed to be employment, unless it is shown that (a) such individual has been and will continue to be free from control or direction over the performance of such services, both under his or her contract of service and in fact, (b) such service is either outside the usual course of business for which such service is performed or such service is performed outside of all the places of business of the enterprise for which such service is performed, and (c) such individual is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession, or business. This subdivision is not intended to be a codification of the common law and shall be considered complete as written;
(2) Employer means the state or any individual, partnership, limited liability company, association, joint-stock company, trust, corporation, political subdivision, or personal representative of the estate of a deceased individual, or the receiver, trustee, or successor thereof, within or without the state, employing any person within the state as an employee;
(3) Federally insured financial institution means a state or nationally chartered bank or a state or federally chartered savings and loan association, savings bank, or credit union whose deposits are insured by an agency of the United States Government;
(4) Fringe benefits includes sick and vacation leave plans, disability income protection plans, retirement, pension, or profit- sharing plans, health and accident benefit plans, and any other employee benefit plans or benefit programs regardless of whether the employee participates in such plans or programs;
(5) Payroll debit card means a stored-value card issued by or on behalf of a federally insured financial institution that provides an employee with immediate access for withdrawal or transfer of his or her wages through a network of automatic teller machines. Payroll debit card includes payroll debit cards, payroll cards, and paycards; and
(6) Wages means compensation for labor or services rendered by an employee, including fringe benefits, when previously agreed to and conditions stipulated have been met by the employee, whether the amount is determined on a time, task, fee, commission, or other basis. Paid leave, other than earned but unused vacation leave, provided as a fringe benefit by the employer shall not be included in the wages due and payable at the time of separation, unless the employer and the employee or the employer and the collective-bargaining representative have specifically agreed otherwise. Unless the employer and
employee have specifically agreed otherwise through a contract effective at the commencement of employment or at least ninety days prior to separation, whichever is later, wages includes commissions on all orders delivered and all orders on file with the employer at the time of separation of employment less any orders returned or canceled at the time suit is filed.
Nebraska Statutes, Neb. Rev. St. § 48-1230
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, each employer shall pay all wages due its employees on regular days designated by the employer or agreed upon by the employer and employee. Thirty days’ written notice shall be given to an employee before regular paydays are altered by an employer. An employer may deduct, withhold, or divert a portion of an employee’s wages only when the employer is required to or may do so by state or federal law or by order of a court of competent jurisdiction or the employer has a written agreement with the employee to deduct, withhold, or divert.
(2) On each regular payday, the employer shall deliver or make available to each employee, by mail or electronically, or shall provide at the employee’s normal place of employment during employment hours for all shifts a wage statement showing, at a minimum, the identity of the employer, the hours for which the employee was paid, the wages earned by the employee, and deductions made for the employee. However, the employer need not provide information on hours worked for employees who are exempt from overtime under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, under 29 C.F.R. part 541, unless the employer has established a policy or practice of paying to or on behalf of exempt employees overtime, or bonus or a payment based on hours worked, whereupon the employer shall send or otherwise provide a statement to the exempt employees showing the hours the employee worked or the payments made to the employee by the employer, as applicable.
(3) When an employer elects to pay wages with a payroll debit card, the employer shall comply with the compulsory-use requirements prescribed in 15 U.S.C. 1693k. Additionally, the employer shall allow an employee at least one means of fund access withdrawal per pay period, but not more frequently than once per week, at no cost to the employee for an amount up to and including the total amount of the employee’s net wages, as stated on the employee’s earnings statement. An employer shall not
require an employee to pay any fees or costs incurred by the employer in connection with paying wages with a payroll debit card.
(4) Except as otherwise provided in section 48-1230.01:
(a) Whenever an employer, other than a political subdivision, separates an employee from the payroll, the unpaid wages shall become due on the next regular payday or within two weeks of the date of termination, whichever is sooner; and
(b) Whenever a political subdivision separates an employee from the payroll, the unpaid wages shall become due within two weeks of the next regularly scheduled meeting of the governing body of the political subdivision if such employee is separated from the payroll at least one week prior to such meeting, or if an employee of a political subdivision is separated from the payroll less than one week prior to the next regularly scheduled meeting of the governing body of the political subdivision, the unpaid wages shall be due within two weeks of the following regularly scheduled meeting of the governing body of the political subdivision.
Nebraska Statutes, Neb. Rev. St. § 48-1230.01
Whenever an employer separates an employee from the payroll, the unpaid wages constituting commissions shall become due on the next regular payday following the employer’s receipt of payment for the goods or services from the customer from which the commission was generated. The employer shall provide an employee with a periodic accounting of outstanding commissions until all commissions have been paid or the orders have been returned or canceled by the customer.
Nebraska Statutes, Neb. Rev. St. § 48-1231
(1) An employee having a claim for wages which are not paid within thirty days of the regular payday designated or agreed upon may institute suit for such unpaid wages in the proper court. If an employee establishes a claim and secures judgment on the claim, such employee shall be entitled to recover the full amount of the judgment and all costs of such suit, including reasonable attorney’s fees. If the cause is taken to an appellate court and the employee recovers a judgment, the appellate court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees to the employee. If the employee fails to recover a judgment in excess of the amount that may have been tendered within thirty days of the regular payday by an employer, such employee shall not recover the attorney’s fees provided by this subsection. If the court finds that no reasonable dispute existed as to the fact that wages were owed or as to the amount of such wages, the court may order the employee to pay the employer’s attorney’s fees and costs of the action as assessed by the court.
(2) If an employee works for an employer that is not subject to the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act and such employee is aggrieved by a violation of section 48-1235, the employee may bring a suit against such employer in the proper court to recover the damages sustained by reason of such violation. If an employee prevails in a suit brought pursuant to this subsection, such employee shall be entitled to recover the full amount of the judgment and all costs of such suit, including reasonable attorney’s fees. If the cause is taken to an appellate court and the employee recovers a judgment, the appellate court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees to the employee.
(3) An employer who fails to furnish a wage statement under subsection (2) of section 48-1230 shall be guilty of an infraction as defined in section 29-431 and shall be subject to a fine pursuant to section 29-436.
(4) If an employee institutes suit against an employer under subsection (1) or (2) of this section, any citation that is issued against such employer under section 48-1234 and that relates directly to the facts in dispute shall be admitted into evidence unless specifically excluded by the court. If a citation has been contested as described in subsection (3) of section 48-1234, it shall not be admitted into evidence under this subsection until after such contest has been resolved.
Nebraska, like a majority of states, has enacted sales representative legislation. Manufacturers, distributors, and importers typically bear the burden of compliance with these statutes and should ensure that their contracts and activities are consistent with applicable law. Sales representatives may wish to review applicable laws to understand their rights. If the laws of multiple states are involved, compliance with the relevant law may become even more complicated, and legal advice from a Nebraska sales rep attorney may be appropriate.
About the Author
Craig W. Trepanier is a sales representative attorney who handles disputes under the Minnesota Termination of Sales Representatives Act and the laws of other jurisdictions. He can be reached at email@example.com or at 612.455.0502. Trepanier MacGillis Battina P.A. is a Minnesota sales representative law firm located in Minneapolis. If you need advice regarding your sales representative agreement, or are having a dispute regarding the termination, non-renewal, or modification of a sales rep agreement or unpaid commissions, please contact us. Mr. Trepanier can represent you in the State of Minnesota. If appropriate, we can co-counsel with an attorney in your jurisdiction to leverage our specialized knowledge of sales rep law.