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


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.

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