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

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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
California.

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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 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.


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