What is our recourse if my husband and other managers were verbally promised money gifts for their service as company was being bought by another company but were never paid?

After that promise, owners renigged on that promise. After someone threatened to sue they

said they would honor original promise. Now, they sent letter to all but my husband that they will

honor promise contingent on managers continuing to work for new company for 1 year. My

husband retires at the end of this month. No contingencies were ever discussed in the beginning when owners had conference call with all managers. My husband, almost 70, wasn’t offered a job with new company as they knew he was retiring. The monies were originally promised because of loyalty to company. My husband has worked for them for almost 20 years.

Asked on December 11, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, an oral promise--"oral," not "verbal," is the better term, by the way--made without your husband giving something of value in return is not enforceable. The only promises which are enforceable are those which are contained within a contract (written or oral, though written are better and more easily and regularly enforced); to form a contract, each side must be promising something of value to the other. If your husband was promised a bonus for having been loyal--that is, not for something he would do in the future, in exchange for the bonuse, but something he has already done--he was not providing "consideration," or something of value in return for the promise. There has to be something new of value being given or promised in return to make the promise an enforceable contract. That means there was no contact; and since there was no contract, the promise is not enforceable.

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