Can a company dictate where I have to spend a gift card

My employer gave out 30 gift cards to giant
eagle for our Christmas bonus. They taxed us
on the gift card, which I believe is legal. My
question is now that the gift card is considered
taxable income does my company have the
legal right to dictate where I have to spend that
monies, I.e giant eagle? To me this seems like
it would fall into the old company store laws.

Asked on December 20, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

If this gift card was given in lieu of normal wages, then no your employer could not dictate where you spent the gift card. However, since it is a bonus that your employer is not legally required, then to the extent that it chosses to pay a bonus it has a great deal of discretion on just how it is used (absent an emloyment contract or union agreement to the contrary).

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

It is legal because it is a bonus, not your base wages or salares. Bonuses, being discretionary (not required by law) are completely up to the company: they can give in cash, in gift or debit cards, even "in kind" (e.g. giving everyone tickets to a show a holiday turkey). However they provide the bonus is legal, since they did not have to provide it all.

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