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

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 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.

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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