If I quit after having been given a bonus, can it be deducted from my last paycheck?

I got a Christmas bonus from my place of employment. I had to quit without a notice due to my husband’s work transferring him out of state. My last paycheck had the bonus amount deducted out of it. Is that legally allowed?

Asked on December 28, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

It would only be legal IF you had some written agreement or at least written policy statement (e.g. in an employee handbook) which you received prior to getting the bonus and deciding when to quit in which you agreed (either explicitly, or at least implicitly, by continuing to work there after having notice of the policy) that if you quit within a certain amount of time after receiving a bonus (or quit without notice), the bonus will be debited from your last paycheck. The law is very clear that apart from court or IRS-ordered garnishments, employee pay may only be withheld or deducted with employee consent, so if you did not in some provable way consent to this, they could not legally do this.
You could, if you deem it worthwhile, sue them for the money. But if you have already relocated or are about to move, it will not likely be worth your while to do so.


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