Can I sue my boss for not giving me my bonus check and keeping it in his desk for over a month and a half?

I have been working as a cleaner at the same place for over 13 years. I’m from Costa Rica but I’m a legal worker here in US. We always receive a bonus yearly. They change my boss around 9 months ago. He gave this year the bonus to all my co-workers except for me. because im the cleaner im allowed to go in his office and I saw my bonus check in his desk for over one month and a half. He don’t give it to me and don’t say nothing about it is just sitting there. Can I sue him for this?

Asked on August 16, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Do you have an actual employment contract or agreement guarantying you a bonus, and, if so, have you met whatever requirements are in to get this bonus? If so, you could sue to enforce the contract and get the bonus to which you are entitled.

However, if you do not have a bonus agreement or contract, then the bonus is discretionary--that is, it's up to the employer's free choice whether to provide one, when, to whom, how much, etc. Even if the employer has always previously provided bonuses, or has given them to everyone else, without a contract, the employer may decide legally to delay or withhold your bonus.

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