Can my employer withhold my bonus check?

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Can my employer withhold my bonus check?

They have stated via email that it was my right to have my bonus for obtaining sales.

Asked on August 5, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If the bonus was a "discretionary bonus"--i.e. not one they were required to give you under the terms of a written employment contract or bonus plan which spelled out certain targets or metrics for a bonus, which targets or metrics you met or exceeded--then yes, they could withhold it: as the term implies, a "discretionary" bonus is at the discretion of the employer, and they can give or not give it at will. Even if an employer previously indicated that you would receive a discretionary bonus, they may legally change their mind.

If there was a written employment (or bonus) agreement which had targets for a bonus which they met or exceeded, then they would be contractually obligated to pay you.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If the bonus was a "discretionary bonus"--i.e. not one they were required to give you under the terms of a written employment contract or bonus plan which spelled out certain targets or metrics for a bonus, which targets or metrics you met or exceeded--then yes, they could withhold it: as the term implies, a "discretionary" bonus is at the discretion of the employer, and they can give or not give it at will. Even if an employer previously indicated that you would receive a discretionary bonus, they may legally change their mind.

If there was a written employment (or bonus) agreement which had targets for a bonus which they met or exceeded, then they would be contractually obligated to pay you.


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