What are my rights if I’m a union RN and was paid a bonus for an extra shift but was later told by payroll that I didn’t qualify for the bonus so it would be taken out of my next paycheck?

I picked up another shift that qualified me for a bonus, which was also to be reflected on my next paycheck. However, on this next check there was no bonus listed under “earnings” and no “deductions” listed as a bonus being removed; they cancelled each other out. I was told months later that I should have received the bonus that was taken out. Did they legally have right to deduct bonus from check in the first place? Is it legal to cancel the bonuses out without it documented on paycheck? Is there a timeframe for me to reclaim the bonus that I should have received in the first place?

Asked on July 16, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Minnesota


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If you were not a "union RN" and did not otherwise have a written employment contract defining the criteria for and handling of bonuses, this would be perfectly legal: without a contract, bonuses are discretionary; being discretionary, they may be given or not at will, without explanation; if you were given a bonus week 1, but the company decided that you should not have received it, then if you otherwise might have received a bonus in week 2, the company could chose to not give it to you, to balance the scales; and they would not need to document the "canceling out" in any way on a paycheck or -stub. You would have no right to get the bonus you feel you should have gotten, since you would have no enforceable rights to discretionary bonsues.

But since you are in a union, your union contract may give you rights, or require some procedures or processes or documentation, which are not the case for non-union employees. Your question cannot be answered without regards to your union contract. You should review the contract carefully and/or discuss the matter with your union representative.

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