Are promised bonuses still payable after leaving a job if you were on written probation while leaving?

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Are promised bonuses still payable after leaving a job if you were on written probation while leaving?

I worked for a real estate broker. My initial hire paperwork states that I will receive a bonus for each transaction that I close start to finish. I submitted a 2 weeks notice to my employer and she let me go that day rather than taking

the 2 weeks. When I emailed her that day to ensure my final paycheck would be paid on time, as well as include my bonuses, she responded that since I had been written up 3 months ago I was therefore on

Asked on March 4, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If you had a written bonus agreement, you must be paid according to that agreement--no more, but also no less. She could only fail to pay the bonus if the terms of the agreement gave her grounds to not do so. (Note that if you did not have a written bonus agreement, setting out quantitative or objective grounds for a bonus which you provably hit, then you only had a discretionary bonus--and, as the term "discretionary" states, such a bonus is at the discretion of the emploer and may be withheld at will.)
If you had a written bonus agreement and your employer will not honor it, you could sue her for the money. During the lawsuit, you will have the opportunity and legal mechanisms (e.g. "discovery," such as document production requests or written questions which must be answered) to get copies of the documentation. Note, though, that to have the ability to get information from her, you most likely can't file a small claims suit, but rather would have to file in "regular" country or district court; small claims cases generally do not provide an opportunity for discovery, or getting information from the other side.


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