Can an employer withhold holiday bonus on the basis of performance evaluation?

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Can an employer withhold holiday bonus on the basis of performance evaluation?

Supervisor held performance evaluation and in the past performance conduct was not tied to holiday bonus.

Asked on December 28, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

A holiday bonus is not legally mandated to be given under the law. So to the extent one is paid, if and when it is paid is up to the discretion of an employer. That is unless not paying one in some way violates company policy or the terms of a union agreement/employment contract. Also, not paying a specific employee a bonus must not be based on some form of actionable discrimination. Absent that, not giving one is perfectly legal. The fact is that in an "at will" employment relationship an employer has a great deal of discretion in setting the requirements and conditions of the workplace. And whether or not to a out a bonus is one of them.


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