Am I entitled to my bonus?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Am I entitled to my bonus?

In my offer letter, it stated that I would receive a $15,000 bonus by the 15th and this was contingent on my employment through 2016 which I was. I was supposed to get the bonus by January 15th and they got rid of me on January 16th. In the offer letter, it did state that it was not a binding agreement. Am I entitled to this bonus?

Asked on January 23, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Until the 2nd-to-last line of your question, the answer would have been that yes, you are entitled to the money: you complied with your obligations under a written agreement (the offer letter) by being employed all last year and through the 15th of this year; since you complied with your obligations, they would be contractually required to comply with theirs, and if they did not, you could sue them for breach of contract for the money. 
But you then wrote that "in the offer letter, it did state that this was not a binding agreement." If so--if by its very terms this was not a binding agreement--then it meant nothing. You cannot enforce a non-binding agreement, which rather than being an enforceable contract, is nothing more than a statement of the then-current intentions. If the agreement truly stated it was not binding, then it was purely discretionary, and the employer had the discretion to not pay you.

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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