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BonusesEmployment LawWage & Hour Dispute

Taking Legal Action for Unpaid Bonuses

By Walton Law APCJanuary 25, 2023October 12th, 2023No Comments

Workers are entitled to receive fair compensation for all the work that they’ve completed. They rely and depend on this notion. It also includes the idea that any bonuses will be paid as they are earned. But what happens if your employer doesn’t honor this and won’t pay you for your bonuses? Read on to learn about taking legal action for unpaid bonuses.

Bonuses are not only significant because an employee should get everything that they are entitled to receive, but they also are an important part of the employee’s complete compensation package. It serves an integral function of helping employees making decisions about whether to continue employment with their company or whether to take a job in the first place. Generally, an employee can pursue legal action against their employer if the employer hasn’t paid them for their bonus.

 Bonuses Based on Employment Contracts

Bonuses can become part of an individual’s employment contract and are enforceable as part of the overall compensation package. If your employer has stiffed you and your bonus is included in your contract, you could likely sue them based on a breach of contract basis. Although other clauses of the contract may not be enforceable, if you have actually done the work to earn the bonus, you generally are still entitled to compensation.

Discrimination Issues

Suppose your bonus isn’t part of a straightforward enforceable contract. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t recover it via other legal claims. Both federal and state laws may apply if there is an issue of pay discrimination. Specifically, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits pay discrimination based on race, color, national origin, or religion; the Equal Pay Act prohibits it based on gender, while The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Age Discrimination Act of 1967 prohibits pay discrimination based on disability and age, respectively.

Because pay discrimination includes every part of your employment compensation, any inequity in bonus distribution could be part of a discrimination claim. If you’re given a smaller bonus compared to your colleagues or no bonus at all while others receive them, then a further inquiry is necessary to see if this claim applies.

The questions can include the following: Did everyone do the same work or was it different? Were the results of the work comparable? If coming up with an objective reason for the difference in treatment is difficult, then you may consider pursuing a claim for pay discrimination. However, these claims can be hard to prove because your employer will likely claim that there was a legitimate reason for the bonus distinction. For your part, you will have to present compelling evidence to overcome their defense.

 Speak to a Lawyer about Taking Legal Action for Unpaid Bonuses

Although employees have the legal right to receive any bonus that they’ve worked for, it doesn’t always happen. If you’re having trouble getting what you’re entitled to receive, you can talk to a skilled lawyer familiar with labor and employment issues who can help you enforce your employer’s obligation to pay you. Get in touch with a Walton Law attorney who is ready to assist you with protecting your rights as an employee. Contact us today to get started.