Can my former employer force me to sign a resignation letter?

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Can my former employer force me to sign a resignation letter?

My employer said I had two options. The first was to sign the resignation letter
and I get to keep the bonus I was already given/promised per our yearly review
or option two I get fired and get nothing but my last paycheck. Is that ethical on
his part?

Asked on November 28, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It may not be ethical, but it is legal unless you have a written employment contract or written bonus agreement which already guarantees you the bonus. If you do, they have to pay you the bonus as required by the written agreement and cannot force you to do anything more than or in addition to what is required by the written agreement to get it. 
However, without a written agreement which by its terms absolutely guarantees the bonus, the bonus is voluntary or discretionary on the employer's part. They could choose to not pay you, even if they previously promised it. (Any bonus not guaranteed by a contract is discretionary.) They could therefore choose to only give you the bonus if you sign the resignation letter and/or some sort of separatoin and release agreement.


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