What can I do if my former employer did not pay my annual bonus?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What can I do if my former employer did not pay my annual bonus?

My former employer chose not to pay my year end bonus to me last month stating that because I renewed my professional memberships 600 on my corporate credit card prior to leaving in January. My memberships were budgeted for and approved for this year. Nothing in policy states that you can’t

renew memberships just because you’ve resigned. They said it showed intent and the company wouldn’t be gaining anything from my memberships. They considered it misuse of corporate credit card and said I was no longer

in good standing. I resigned early January and met all bonus eligibility requirements which is why I waited until January to resign so my bonus for would be paid. They also did not give me my final performance review while employed and have since denied my requests stating they don’t give that information to former employees. As a result, I dont know my bonus amount.

Asked on April 2, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

They have to pay you your bonus only IF all the following apply:
1) You had a written bonus agreement--they can renege on an oral promise;
2) The agreement had quantitive or objective targets (not subjective ones, like "do a good job" or "get a high performance review") for the bonus, which you achieved and which can be proven--since subjective targets are opinions or judgment calls, they are effectively unprovable or unenforceable;
3) The agreement specifically allows you to get the bonus under these circumstances (e.g. if you resign when you did--that is, you don't have to be, for example, still employed when the bonus would be paid to you); and 
4) The agreement does not contain any discretionary element, since to the extent the bonus is at employer discretion, they could use their discretion to deny it.
If all the above apply, you could sue them to enforce the agreement for "breach of contract." A lawsuit would be the only way to force the to pay.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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