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Quarterly Management Bonus Not Paid Texas

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  • Quarterly Management Bonus Not Paid Texas

    I was offered a management bonus after the first quarter of this year. The offer was made verbally and it is not written in an employment contract. However, immediately after the bonus was offered and accepted, I sent my employer an email requesting the criteria and parameters that were required to earn the bonus. I never received a response to my email, however, I asked my supervisor, who was present at the time of the offer, what the criteria was. He informed me that the bonus was part of my overall compensation and that it was not performance based.

    At the end of the third quarter, I sent an email to my employer inquiring about the bonus and I was informed that I did not earn it. Again no criteria was provided for earning this bonus at this point or at the time of the original offer. I argued that point with my employer and he told me that the criteria is whatever he says it is. Even that was not outlined at the original offer. In a recent conversation with my employer he informed me that if he had the money to pay me the bonus then he would have. I have several of these statement recorded on my iphone. I have several emails document that the bonus was offered and was accepted. Since these meetings regarding this issue, I was terminated without cause.

    What are my options as far as pursuing this bonus? What are the advantages to suing for wrongful termination?

  • #2
    Since as far as I can tell, you were not wrongfully terminated as defined by law, I don't see any advantage at all to suing for wrongful term. A wrongful term means that there is a specific law which says you cannnot be termed for the reason you were. What law do you think was violated?
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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    • #3
      The problem is that there is a very well established Common Law principal called Employment At Will. The principal basically says unless a specific law or contract is being violated that the employment relationship is concerned to be "at will" and can be legally ended by either party without an actual reason. This principal is not absolute, there are exceptions. But there are hundreds of years of courts and administrative decisions supporting this "common law" and it is very well understood legally.
      "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
      Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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      • #4
        Thank you for that...my major question is whether I should take them to a small claims court and sue them for my bonus. What are some considerations I should make before deciding to do this?

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        • #5
          You can do that...

          A suit in court would be argued under the theory that you had a contract that specified that you would be paid a bonus. If you can establish that contractual obligation, you'd likely prevail. This is contract law.
          You can file a claim for unpaid wages with Texas Workforce Commission which will apply Sec. 61.015 of the Texas Labor Code that says bonuses may be due as wages and payable according to the terms of an agreement between the employee and employer. This would be labor law.

          There are filing fees and potentially representation fees associated with going to court. If you win, the employer may be ordered to pay attorney's fees. If you lose, there is a chance you could be ordered to pay the attorney fees of the employer. There are no fees involved in pursuing an administrative claim under the Texas Labor Code.

          Neither pursuit is quick, and nothing is guaranteed. Either way, it's going to depend on the agreement between the employer and you. I wouldn't be surprised if the employer's side of the story is different than yours.

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          • #6
            I would add that demanding that the company develop and publish, or at least provide to you, the criteria for a bonus plan that is in no way part of your employment agreement is not wise. Based on your post, I would assume that your initial performance was well appreciated. Your demanding that they define the criteria when they had no obligation to do that probably contributed to their decision to terminate you.

            There are many aspects of job performance that can not be quantified. When people try to quantify these, they create a system whereby an employee can "game the system" by making numbers while not doing the job that needs to be done. An undefined bonus program is one way to reward good performers without the limitations of numerical calculations. I like the approach since it permitted me to reward the people who were helping me the most. HR people for the most part didn't like it because we couldn't prove mathematically why one person received a higher bonus than another.
            Please post questions on the forum rather than sending me a private message or email. That way others who have similar issues have access to the discussion.

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