Can my bonus be put on hold due to a requirement not previously stated?

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Can my bonus be put on hold due to a requirement not previously stated?

I work as a General Manager for a quick lube and the company has a bonus structure. I recently submitted a letter of resignation; the month prior qualified for a bonus. Prior to submitting my letter my superior gave me a ballpark number of what to expect for my bonus and when to expect it. The time has come and I did not see the expected bonus. When I questioned my superior about this he claims that his superior, the one responsible for the bonus payments, has put a hold on all manager’s bonuses pending the return of uniforms that former employees have not returned. Is this legal without manger consent and/or a policy regarding the uniforms?

Asked on April 20, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If your bonus was not discretionary but rather was based on quantitive accomplishments (e.g. certain financial results; number of customers serviced; etc.), then the employer has to honor its bonus agreement (which is a contract) and pay you the bonus if you met the requirements; it may not after-the-fact add additonal requirements or hurdles. In this case, if you had an agreement in place (oral or written) for your bonus, which agreement would require your payment under the circumstances that then applied, if you are not paid, you could sue your now-former employer for your bonus.

However, if your bonsus was discretionary--i.e. even if there were some guidelines, at the end of the day, it was up to the employer's discretion whether and how much to bonus you--they could excercise that discretion to delay your bonus or deny you your bonus entirely.


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