Can I sue my former employer because they did not want me to stay until my RSU’s vested?

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Can I sue my former employer because they did not want me to stay until my RSU’s vested?

I am wondering if I can sue my previous employer for how they handled my departure. Here are a few details in chronological order. I informed my manager of my intent to leave the company and join my new company, the 2nd week of December of last year. I realized that I have RSU’s vesting in mid-February and to be eligible for the annual bonus, I have to be employed at the company until end of February. I talked about this with my manager’s manager in the first week of January. She said she had no objections as long as management cleared this. My manager’s manager came back to me and informed me verbally that everything was okay and she had the necessary approvals for me to stay longer so that I could get the RSU’s and bonus. Based on this verbal commitment, I asked for permission from my manager at my new company to move my start date to first week of March instead of second week of January. Then, week later, my manager came to me and said that the management did not want me to stay until end of February and wanted me to resign as soon as possible. I resigned a week later and joined my new company in the following week. As a result of this, I missed out on about 55,000 in RSU’s and almost $20,000 in annual bonus, both of which I had earned based on my performance last year. Can you please advise if I have a case?

Asked on May 16, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

No, you do not have a case, unless you had a written contract guarantying you that you would vest or guarantying you employment until March. In the absence of a written employment contract, all employment is employment at will; an employer may terminate you at any time, for any reason--and particularly, to avoid having to give 55,000 RSU and a $20,000 bonus to someone who will leave right after getting them, and who has already told the employer that he or she will be leaving. In the future, do not announce your intention to quit or resign until after vesting, if vesting was only a few months off. 


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