Am I entitled to a bonus if my co-workers are getting one?

UPDATED: Sep 20, 2011

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Am I entitled to a bonus if my co-workers are getting one?

All of the employees at my location are being laid off by the end of the year. They are all receiving retention bonuses. I am not. I am currently out on FMLA leave due to the birth of my child. I was told that upon return I would be laid off and I would get the same severance plan, but no bonus. Is this right?

Asked on September 20, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Bonuses are purely at the employer's discretion--they choose whether to grant bonuses or not, and if they do provide them, the terms, conditions, amounts, how they are earned, when paid, who is eligible, etc. So there is no law that all co-workers must be treated the same, or that one worker can be refused a bonus when other onese get them.

While it is true that an employee may not be retaliated against for using FMLA leave, since it is a statutorilly guarnateed right, it might be difficult to show that you are being discriminated against: while you are allowed to take leave, as a consequence of it, you were out of work for some number of weeks (up to 12). When workers are out on leave, paid or unpaid, the employer does not have to count that time for the accrual of benefits or bonuses, if such are offered. The fact that you were out while other workers were, presumably, not may be enough to justify treating you differently.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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