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Hello, I am quiting my company in the first week of next year. My present company pays out the bonus annually. I assumed they would be paying that out since I am completing this year. However, after my resignation they came back and said that I would not get my bonus since I would not be here on the day of the payout. I offered to work the additional weeks until the time of payout to get my due for last year but they refused that as well. So they want me to leave on the day and don’t want to see any options where they have to payout the bonus. I think it’s very unfair. Is there anything I can do here?
Asked on December 22, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Georgia
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 4 years ago | Contributor
If you have a written bonus agreement which guaranteed you the bonus or set certain targets or goals to earn a bonus, and you achieved those targets or goals, *and* the agreement did not by its plain terms require you to be employed when the bonus is paid to receive it, then you are entitled to the bonus. If they did not pay it to you in this circumstance, you could sue them for breach of contract, since you would have qualified for the bonus--i.e. you met your obligations, so the they must now meet theirs.
However, if there was a written agreement and it stated that to be paid the bonus, you had to be employed when it was paid, that limitation is legal and enforceable: you would not receive it.
And if there was no written agreement guarantying you the bonus under these circumstances, then this was a discretionary bonus and your employer could choose when and whether to pay it: they could therefore legally decide to not pay you.
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