Is it legal for a major company to without bonus pay for previous months work?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is it legal for a major company to without bonus pay for previous months work?

A friend of mine is moving to Florida,
she was told that if she leaves before
the end of the month she won’t get it.
The thing that upsets me the most is
that the company didn’t say anything
about it. She learned through a
coworker. If she didn’t ask then she
would’ve moved thinking she’d receive
it. I think it’s sneaky and
underhanded. We’re in Southern

Asked on September 10, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

It depends on the following:
1) Is it a bonus based on a written bonus agreement with written targets, or is it  a discretionary bonus--that is, one which is up to the her supervisor(s) whether to pay, and how much? If it is a discretionaary  bonus (not defined by a written agreement, where she met the terms or target of the agreement), then they could legally choose to not pay it to her, even if they had previously promised it.
2) If, on the other hand, it is based on a written bonus agreement and she met the requirements to be paid the bonus, they *must* pay her unless the bonus agreement itself specifically allows them to not pay in this situation. (E.g. the agreement states that she must be employed when the bonus is paid out to receive it.) Otherwise, if under the terms of the written bonus agreement and the circumstances, your friend should be paid, if they don't pay her as required by the agreement, she could sue for "breach of contract" to get her money.

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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