CanI sue my employer ifI can’t beawarded a free-trip due to a write-up?

UPDATED: Feb 10, 2011

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CanI sue my employer ifI can’t beawarded a free-trip due to a write-up?

I love my job, and last year we had yearly award, the winner gets a trip. At the beginning of the year I got into trouble and got a write-up. Now they are trying to say that because of the write-up I can’t win the trip. However on the “guidelines” of the yearly award there is nothing said about write ups. Besides, it happened this year not last. Can I sue for this?

Asked on February 10, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

It is *possible* that you may be able to sue. The chief factor to consider  is this: while you  say the "guidelines" of the aware do not specifically say that a write-up (whether from the current or a previous year) does not prevent one from winning, do they either--

1) Say that an employee must be in "good standing" or use any language to that effect, that would tend to indicate that an employee with some write up is not eligible; or more likely

2) Is there any discretionary component to the award?

If management has any discretion--that is, if they don't simply have to give the award to the employee who otherwise "won" it, regardless of who that employee is, what else he or she has done, etc.--then they can use that discretion to deny the award to a given employee. Since most bonuses and award programs have some element of managerial discretion, this is likely.

If there is no discretion whatsoever--and also no limitations, caveats, etc.--and there is some document(s) which in essence make the award program a contract between management and employees, then you may be able to sue--though whether suing an employer over a trip is a good idea is another story. (For example: the employer could probably then fire you.)

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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