Every day, employees all over North Carolina work hard to ensure their company’s success. Some employers promise their employees bonuses to reward them for a job well done. Unfortunately, not all employees receive the bonuses promised. Employers who breach a contract with their employees should be accountable for their actions. A breach of contract involving bonuses lawyer in Charlotte at Gibbons Leis, PLLC will help fight for what is rightfully yours.
Call us to schedule a consultation today: 704-612-0038.
What is a bonus?
Bonuses are a form of compensation employers give employees in addition to their base salary for strong performance in the workplace. Employers typically award bonuses at specific times of the year (e.g., end of the year, end of a season).
In some cases, employers will describe the terms of the bonus in the employee’s initial employment contract. The terms may include:
- Details about the work required to earn the bonus
- The bonus amount
- When employers will pay the bonus
- How employers will calculate the bonus
In some cases, employers hire employees without a contract and may not write down the terms of the bonus. Oral contracts may still be enforceable in court depending on the facts of your case. We will investigate your case and determine the validity of your case.
Why is my employer withholding my bonus?
Employers may withhold a portion of or an entire bonus from an employee for multiple reasons including:
- The employer fired the employee, or the employee resigned, before receiving the bonus.
- The company suffered heavy losses over the course of the year and could not afford to pay the bonus.
- The employer has decided that the employee’s performance did not merit a bonus.
Can I recover my bonus from my employer?
Bonuses are generally discretionary payments, meaning that they are dependent on a number of factors. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers do not need to pay bonuses. However, you can still recover the bonus your employer promised — if you have a contractual right to it.
When determining whether you are contractually entitled to your bonus, we will ask the following questions.
Is it in writing?
The first thing courts will consider is whether the promise regarding your bonus was in writing. If your employer detailed your bonus in the original employment contract, you will have a good chance at recovering payment.
The contract will need to show that the employer and employee were in agreement about the terms of the bonus. We will review your employment contract to determine if it includes payment of a bonus.
If it is not in writing, is there an oral contract?
If the terms of the bonus are not in writing, courts will look at whether the contract precludes any oral modifications. If it does not, courts will look at the course of dealing between the employer and employee. The court will look at emails, texts, and other interactions between the two parties for more information regarding the terms of the bonus. For example, a bonus may have been discretionary at first, but after a few years of steady bonus pay, the bonus may have become an implied part of the contract.
Proving an implied bonus is much more difficult; we have years of experience proving and winning written and implied bonuses. We will examine all aspects of your case to determine whether your employer promised you a bonus.
Does your contract include conditions about your bonus?
Some contracts include stipulations for when a bonus will be payable. For example, some contracts state that the employer will only award a bonus for work s/he expects you to complete in the future.
Employment contracts are complex and often filled with confusing language. We will review your contract and determine whether it includes any terms or exclusions.
If there is no contract, are there other reasons to award the bonus?
In cases where there is no contractual agreement regarding the bonus, the court may award the bonus based on detrimental reliance. This means that the employee reasonably relied on the bonus in a significant way and will suffer greatly without it.
Will I get my bonus if my employer terminated me?
Many employees who have been let go are concerned that they are no longer entitled to their bonus.
Depending on the contract and its terms, employees may receive a partial payment of the bonus depending on how long the employee had worked there and whether the employment ended on good terms.
If your employer fired you for disciplinary reasons or you quit, you will likely be unable to recover your bonus.
What should I do if I have not received my bonus?
If you have not received a bonus that your employer promised you, you should consult with a Charlotte employment law attorney about your case. An attorney from Gibbons Leis, PLLC will review your employment contract and other communications between you and your employer to determine whether you were entitled to a bonus.
If we find that you are entitled to a bonus, we can write a letter to your employer informing him of the lack of payment.
If this does not resolve the situation, we can help you bring a claim against your employer in North Carolina claims court. If you successfully establish that you had an agreement with your employer regarding a bonus or that you detrimentally relied on the bonus, the court may award you damages in the amount of the bonus.
If your employer has breached the terms of your employment contract, you need a qualified attorney to help you get the payment you are entitled to. Gibbons Leis, PLLC has years of experience handling employment law cases just like yours.
For more information on how to recover the bonus you earned, contact704-612-0038 for a free consultation.