If I resigned from my job, am I still entitled to a bonus that was earned but not yet paid?

UPDATED: Jul 18, 2014

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If I resigned from my job, am I still entitled to a bonus that was earned but not yet paid?

I earned a bonus with my company for last month which hasn’t been paid yet. When I gave my resignation notice I was informed I wouldn’t receive the bonus. Is this legal? I was never told this to my knowledge.

Asked on July 18, 2014 under Employment Labor Law, South Carolina


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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If an employee has a employment contract, union agreement or the like with their employer which states that the employee would receive bonuses that have been earned, even if they have left their job, then the employee would be entitled to those bonuses. However, as a general rule, if there is no such contract or agreement it would be at the employer’s discretion whether or not to pay a bonus. In other words, your employer does not have to pay this bonus since it would have been a discretionary benefit that it could decide to give or not.

Note: If others were paid an earned bonus after they resigned, you may have a case for discrimination. However, your differing treatment must have been based on your race, religion, gender, etc.

That all haivng been said, laws governing the workplace differ from state-to-state, so you may want to contact a local employment law attorney to be sure of your rights.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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