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Unpaid Commissions

Sibley and Harlow v. Sprint Nextel Corp.

On December 10 and 20, 2018, the Kansas district court granted final approval of settlements reached involving allegations by Sprint’s retail and business channel sales representatives of unpaid commissions. The settlements provide $30,500,000.00 to a class of 34,905 Sprint retail store employees, and $3,650,000.00 to a class of 3,917 business channel employees, who worked for Sprint during the 2005 through 2009 time frame. The settlement came after over a decade of contentious litigation and as the parties were preparing for trial.

Plaintiffs started both cases in 2008, alleging that after Sprint’s merger with Nextel the telecommunications giant failed to pay accurate commissions owed under the commission agreements. The employees asserted that the company’s systems were unable to accurately track and calculate their commissions for several years.

According to an internal Sprint company document publicly filed with the court, a top Sprint executive tasked with fixing the commission issues predicted it would take “lawyers, guns, and money” for Sprint employees to get what they were owed. Nearly a decade of contentious litigation followed, which eventually resulted in the settlements reached. The cases required expansive discovery and analysis of Sprint’s complex commissions-related data and plans. Between the two cases, class counsel took the depositions of nearly 60 Sprint corporate executives and those with knowledge of and responsibility for its commission system. The employees relied heavily on their wireless industry commission reconciliation experts Nile Nickel and Barry Ezell of Balance Engines LLC, and software engineer and data mining expert Dr. Margaret Dunham.

The retail channel case is Sibley v. Sprint Nextel Corp., Civ. No. 08-2063-KHV (D. Kan.), and the business channel case is Harlow v. Sprint Nextel Corp, Civ. No. 08-2222-KHV (D. Kan.).  


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