If I earned a bonus in the 4th quarter but was terminated for job performance on Jan, 11th, should I get the bonus that I earned?

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If I earned a bonus in the 4th quarter but was terminated for job performance on Jan, 11th, should I get the bonus that I earned?

Asked on February 12, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

There is no standard answer: it depends on your employer's bonus plan and rules for bonuses. It would be legal to have a plan that pays you once you earn the bonus, even if you leave before it is paid; or to have a plan that requires you to be employed at the time the bonus is paid to receive it. It is more common by far, however, to only pay employees still employed when the bonus is paid out, so if there is nothing affirmatively documenting or showing that your company pays bonuses once earned, regardless of whether an employee is still employed or not, a court would most likely interpret the plan in accordance with common practice and hold that you have to be employed to be paid. So while you need to check what your particular bonus plan says about this, if it does address the issue, it is more likely that you will not get the bonus if not still employed.


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