If my employer said he was going to give me bonuses but then didn’t pay me, can he be sued?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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If my employer said he was going to give me bonuses but then didn’t pay me, can he be sued?

I have been getting yearly and quarterly bonuses for 2 years now. I recently bought a home and on my

mortgage my employer included the bonuses that were due to me at that time. Shortly after I decided to part ways with the company. He has yet to pay me and I am curious if there is anything that can be


Asked on November 7, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

IF you had a written employment or bonus agreement which, by its plain terms, guaranteed you a bonus under these circumstances, you are entitled to the bonus and could sue for "breach of contract" if not paid it. In the lawsuit, you could seek the amount of money the written agreement guaranteed you.
Without a written agreement, however, paying a bonus is purely discretionary on the part of the employer, and regardless of whether you received one in previous years or whether you were promised one (since non-contractual promises are not legally enforceable). Without a contract, your employer could simply decide to not pay you a bonus, and that would be legal.

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