Can an employer change an incentive once the criteria has been reached?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can an employer change an incentive once the criteria has been reached?

When I hired on to a local temp agency I was told that upon completing 90 days
I would receive a 500 bonus and a 1/hr pay increase. When I reached that 90
days I got an email and a phone call saying that was not going to happen. Do I
have any legal right to that compensation?

Asked on March 6, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Indiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If you had a written employment contract for a set or defined period of time (e.g. a one-year contract) guarantying you the pay or the bonus or both, they have to provide them to you: if they don't, you could sue them for "breach of contract" for violating the contract's terms.
If you did not have such a contract, however, you were an "employee at will" and an employer may change or reduce an employee at will's pay, bonus, etc. at any time, for any reason, including reneging on what it promised. Wthout a written contract, you have no enforceable right to these things.

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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