In Ohio, can a employer take back a bonus after it has been paid to an employee after more than two months?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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In Ohio, can a employer take back a bonus after it has been paid to an employee after more than two months?

We are paid bonuses every six months after reaching
personal goals January-June. Some orders are now
coming in as cancels due to the company allowing future
orders to take place. Now, they are saying the bonus was
not reached in September. The bonus was paid early July.

Asked on September 8, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

In some situations yes, but in most, no.
1) There was no written set of goals or targets, but the employer decided to give you a bonus for doing what it considered a good job; it cannot later rethink whether that was  warranted or not. A bonus based on subjective criteria is final once given.
2) There were written targets or goals which you hit and the written bonus agreement did NOT state that the bonus could be reduced or taken back if there cancellations later. A written bonus agreement is a contract, and a company can only get a "refund" of a bonus if the terms of the bonus agreement itself permit it.
3) The terms of a written bonus agreement allow the bonus to be taken back in whole or in part in the event of cancelations; if the agreement/contract permits this, the employer may do 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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