Is a verbal agreement of bonus valid in Florida?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 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.

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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