Can my general manger withhold my bonus check?

My general manger is mad at me because I called off. She told an employee that she is going to give my bonus check back to HR out spite. When she already gave all the other mangers their bonus checks. Can she do that?

Asked on January 5, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, California


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

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Are the terms of the bonus covered under company policy or an employment/union agreement? If so, then they will control. If not, then the bonus is payable at the discretion of your employer. The bottom line is, was your bonus guaranteed or discretionary?

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

1) Is the bonus guaranteed by a written agreement, such as based on a set of financial targets which you met? If it is guaranteed by written agreement (contract), they have to pay it to you as per the agreement.
2) However, if it's not a guaranteed bonus but rather was discretionary (the employer can decide whether to pay you a bonus and how much), then if the check was not yet given to you, they can decide to withhold it--until the check is in your hand (or direct deposit in your account), there is no guaranty or right to a discretionary bonus.

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