Can an employer pick and choose who he gives a 25 year employment bonus to?

UPDATED: Dec 23, 2011

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Can an employer pick and choose who he gives a 25 year employment bonus to?

This year was my year to receive 10k for 25 years of employment. I did not get it and others did. During a review I asked why and he said he was just going to hold my check for another week and see how things went. Weeks passed and nothing. I attended the Christmas party which I never go to because I work overnight and nothing. I went to HR and the lady said the boss has the money and for me to smile at him more is all I could do. Who says that? Anything I can do? They are taunting me and stressing me out. My employee record is clean and I am never late or out.

Asked on December 23, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, New York


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Actually your employer has every right to do this unless not paying you such a bonus in some way violates company policy or the terms of an employment contract or union agreement. Additionally, your not being paid a bonus must not constitute some form of actionable discrimination (i.e be based on your gender, race, religion, disability etc.). Otherwise not treating all employees equally or even fairly is perfectly permissible under the law. In other words, while it may be unprofessional to treat you this way it is, unfortunately, legal.

The reason is that in an "at will" employment relationship, an employer has a great deal of discretion in setting the terms and conditions of the workplace, including which employees qualify for bonuses. In tun, in such an employment arrangement, an employee can choose to work for an employer or quit. Granted, this may not be much of a choice but it's the law.

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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