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Annual bonus - Paid qtrly - I left, do I owe? - FL

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  • Annual bonus - Paid qtrly - I left, do I owe? - FL

    My prior employer has a compensation plan that is a small salary plus a very large quarterly bonus based on the profitabilty of the individual location.

    The company considers the bonus a 'draw' agaainst an annual bonus.

    The bonus was calculated on the specific, objective profitability of the first quarter.

    I was paid the bonus, worked 2 more months with only my salary as compensation then resigned fo ra postion at another firm.

    Now they claim I owe them back the first quarter bonus because it was a 'draw' against the annual bonus.

    Any thoughts?

  • #2
    You'll need to discuss the matter with a local attorney.

    Whether you owe the bonus back is going to depend on the EXACT wording of any documentation you may have.
    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
      If it were me I wouldn't repay them or worry about it until I saw a summons.

      Forget the legal question. Do they really want to develop a reputation for suing former employees?

      Besides, it presents a tricky legal issue and odds are against them wanting to blow the legal fees on a "maybe".
      Last edited by grasmicc; 07-19-2005, 02:23 PM.

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      • #4
        That is a good point. It is an ugly situation and I really do not understand what the company hopes to gain. It will cost them more in the long run do to bad publicity and poor employee relations.

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        • #5
          4years later

          OK, yeah, this is an old thread. After 4 years the company has given the debt to a collection agent who is now harassing and threatening me.

          Any new thoughts on the above situation?

          I was employed in Florida at the time.

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          • #6
            What was said before. It would be very hard to have any opinion without actually having read all documentation and being a FL attorney (which I am not). You were given the correct answer 4 years ago. It has not changed.

            Past that, sending something out to collections is not by itself an indication of a strong hand on the employer's part. It is one of those things that tend to get done when the employer is not willing to spend money on a court action. Legally a collection agency sending letters carries no more weight the employer themselves sending the letters. Arguably it carries less weight because the collection agency is under certain restrictions that the employer is not. Presumably the collection agency gets to keep say half of what they get, and if the employer was ready to write off the debt, a maybe half of something is better then a certain 100% of nothing.

            However just because what you describe is generally speaking a weak action on the employer's part is no guarantee that the employer will not escalate. Sometimes that is a function of whoever the boss-du-jour is. I have worked for bosses who took every thing personally and would tend to sue people on things were there was no real chance of winning.
            "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
            Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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            • #7
              Thanks Daw. I have never in my life had to deal with any 'collections' I am one of those people who pay may debt.

              I left a lot more money on the table (Deferred comp, additional bonus dollars) when I left then what is being asked of me now.

              I have consulted an attorney who basically said "Wait for them to file" but that does not mean I have some discomfort over the whole situation. Other, more experienced peoples input is appreciated.

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              • #8
                There isn't going to be anybody "more experienced" in this situation. It is not really that common to have draws against annual bonuses and there are, to my knowledge, no Florida attorneys posting here. You've consulted an attorney, so take his/her advice. This is a matter of contract law, not a matter of labor law.
                I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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                • #9
                  What additional input did you want? You got your answer here (& correct). You have an attorney - work with them.
                  Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

                  Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Betty3 View Post
                    What additional input did you want? You got your answer here (& correct). You have an attorney - work with them.
                    That seems a very hostile comment. I was looking for other people who may have had a similar circumstance and the events and outcomes that may have happened. That is what was meant by 'more experienced'.

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                    • #11
                      If that's what you meant, then perhaps you should have phrased it that way. "I'm interested in hearing from anyone else who has had this situation". As I already explained, "draws" or advances against bonuses are pretty rare.
                      I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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                      • #12
                        I worked for a company that calculated bonuses the same way your former employer did. Big ups & downs from quarter to quarter are highly discouraged, as you don't want to earn a big one your first quarter and then have to pay it all back the next.

                        The first year they implemented the plan, there was one person who earned a gigantic bonus in the first quarter, and promptly retired. The bonus pool was affected dramatically for the rest of the year, and the rest of the bonus pool participants grumbled heavily about it, but given the fact that this guy was previously part owner of the company and nothing was written into the compensation plan regarding this possibility, they couldn't do a darn thing about it. And didn't, either.

                        This contingency may be written into your bonus plan, however. If your division remained highly profitable and you were still "positive" at year-end, would you be paid any remaining bonus, even for working part of the year? Is that contingency written into your compensation plan?

                        Also, you need to make sure your attorney is aware of exactly how they have treated others who have left mid-bonus year.

                        Hope that helps.

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