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

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 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. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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