Is a verbal agreement of bonus valid in Florida?

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Is a verbal agreement of bonus valid in Florida?

Recruited from stable employment position. Offered salary in offer letter. Verbal
offer of large bonus at 90 day mark, not in offer letter so company didn’t have to pay
commission on it to recruiter. CEO who made offer resigned. Company will not
now honor the verbal on bonus because it is not in writing. Previous CEO is still
investor in company and confirms I am entitled to bonus at 90 days, but has no
power and is no longer CEO. I feel like I was lured away from stable job with comp
offer that has now changed. Any recourse?

Asked on October 2, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, you cannot enforce an oral promise (that's the better term than "verbal") for a bonus. The problem is, all employment is employment at will which means, among other things, an employer can change compensation (e.g. promise a raise or bonus, then renege on that promise) at will, *except* and only to the extent that there is a written employment agreement setting or guarantying the compensation. When there is nothing in writing, the employer may change its mind--and that is especially so when there was a written letter which did not mention the bonus. In that case, a court would conclude that the failure to include the bonus in a writing which was otherwise being issued (the offer letter) means that the promise did not exist, since when there is a written agreement of some kind, it supercedes all prior oral promises, and promises which did not make it into writing are not enforceable.


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