Do I have a right to a bonus check that was earned before I quit my job?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Do I have a right to a bonus check that was earned before I quit my job?

We received quarterly bonuses at my prior employer. I earned a first place bonus for the

second quarter April-June. We normally do not receive the bonuses on time and usually took months to actually pay us for them. I found a new job and put my two week notice in at

employer in September. I was told that the bonus would be on my last paycheck. It was not. I followed up with manager and she said they weren’t approved and it would be on next check. It was not. Followed up again and she told me not to hold my breath and it would be a while. Well 2 weeks later, I was told by other employees at company that they received bonus so to check my account. I had no bonus. I called the place in charge of our checks and asked if it was mailed since I no longer worked there and they told me the check wasn’t asked to be issued. I then called manager and she didn’t answer so I left a voice mail. She responded 6 hours later saying my bonus was denied because I am no longer an employee. I want to know if I can do something about this because I earned the bonus when I was an employee? The bonus is only about $500-$600 but it’s not about the money anymore. I just don’t think this is fair at all and would definitely like advice on how to pursue something.

Asked on October 27, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Utah


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If you had a written bonus agreement, under the terms of which you earned the bonus, and which agreement did not require you to be employed when the bonus was paid in order to receive it, then you are entitled to the bonus and could sue in small claims court for breach of contract if you don't receive it. (Only small claims court, acting as your own attorney or "pro se," would make economic sense; suing any other way would cost you more than the bonus.)
But if there was no written bonus agreement, then even if you always received it in the past, it was still a "discretionary" bonus and your employer could choose to not give it to you. Or if there was a written agreement but it stated you had to be employed when it was paid, then you would not be entitled to it.

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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