Do employers have to offer equal incentives to all employees?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Do employers have to offer equal incentives to all employees?

Or can certain employees get incentives and not others? I work in marketing and would like to be compensated for the work i do on one account. My colleagues also work on the design and development of the site. How can i be compensated for all the work I do above and beyond work hours? I increased sales by over 100 recently and I’d really like to pitch an incentivized or bonus structure. My boss said it’s not legal for him to give me an incentive and not my colleagues. There has to be a loophole if that is in fact true.

Asked on December 6, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, New Jersey


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Most employment relationships are what is known as "at will". This means that a company can set the terms and conditions of employment much as it sees fit. Accordingly, so long as there does not exist an employment contract or union agreement to the contrary, an employer can offer an incentive to just some workers but not to others. The fact is that not all workers need be treated the same or even fairly. That is as long as no form of legally actionable discrimination is the reason for the differing treatment (i.e. based on race, religion, age (over 40), disability, etc.). As for not being paid for your time, if you are a non-exempt employee (i.e. typically hourly versus salary), then you are entitled to be compensated for any hours you work over 40 in a work week.

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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