Can an employer refuse to pay compensation earned in one quarter but payable in the following quarter, if the employee quits?

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Can an employer refuse to pay compensation earned in one quarter but payable in the following quarter, if the employee quits?

I work as a personal trainer at an upscale corporate gym. Part of our compensation structure is a $500 “bonus” received each time a client has trained 200 times. This amount is not a “discretionary” bonus determined by management, but rather a fixed set amount to be paid out at the beginning of the following business quarter. I am planning on quitting my job before the start of the next quarter. Can my employer refuse to pay me the “bonus” I have earned by training one of my clients’ 200th session last week?

Asked on July 16, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you have an employment contract it may be wise to read over it and have someone on your behalf read it as well.  If the bonus is earned while you are en employee then I would argue that you are entitled to the bonus regardless of whether or not you are still employed at the gym at the time of the second quarter.  But I can not see what the employment contract says.  Does it make reference to being still employed at the time the bonus is paid out? If it does I would argue that it may be contradictory and against public policy.  That portion is set by the employer for book keeping purposes and has nothing to do with earning the income.  Take a look at your contract.  God luck.


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