Am I entitled to my bonus if I quit right before I was supposed to get it?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Am I entitled to my bonus if I quit right before I was supposed to get it?

I am leaving my company and at the end of the year they give us bonuses based on their performance for the year. I work for 3 bosses who are all independent contractors and are paid commission. When I started the job the structure was you might get paid less salary but they make up for it with bonuses. We typically get our bonuses in December of every year. Because I already have a new job lined up, I will be leaving in November. Is it appropriate for me to discuss still getting my bonus during my resignation? Normally I would say I forgoed this, however, I still feel like I’m owed a bonus because I worked a full year and they use the bonus as incentive for us to do well, which I did.

Asked on September 28, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Forget about what you "feel" you are owed--that is irrelevant. If you do not have a written bonus agreement, but rather your boss(es) use their discretion to decide how much to give you, when, then they have no obligation to pay any portion of your portion if you leave employment; they could use their discretion to legally decide to not pay you.
If you have a written bonus agreement or contract, you need to review it to see if have to be paid if you leave before bonus payout--and, if so, whether you get the whole bonus or a pro rata share based on when during the year you left. It is legal to pay you some, all, or none--it depens on what the written agreement was.

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