Am I entitled to a bonus that my employer verbally promised to me, but then he fired me before I was due to receive it?

My employer promised the teachers at the charter school where I worked that
we would receive a bonus of about 20,000 half of our salary upon completion
of our 12th year of teaching at the school. I was the first teacher due to receive
the bonus this year, and the principal chose not to renew my contract because of
‘business decisions’. Am I entitled to this money? It’s interesting to note that the
principal, his wife, and all of their children received this money the previous year.

Asked on May 26, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

An oral (that's the better term than "verbal") promise of a bonus is not enforceable. What the law calls are "gratuitous" promises--promises which are not part of a contact--which are freely made by one person are not legally enforceable: the person may choose to honor them, but there is no recourse if he does not. Furthermore, unless you had a written employment contract, you employment would have been "employment at will," so you could be legally terminated at any time, for any reason whatsover. And a person or business may reward certain employees, including family members, but not others--there is no legal requirement to treat employees equally or fairly. Based on what you write, you have no recourse.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.