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Can workers file a wage claim over an unpaid bonus?

On Behalf of | Jun 4, 2024 | Wage And Hour Claims |

Companies should pay workers in accordance with their contracts and employment records. The law imposes numerous wage and hour laws on businesses that have employees. A worker’s status, their contract and even the industry in which they work can affect their wage rights. If employers do not fulfill their wage obligations to workers, employees may need to file lawsuits to secure their wages.

Hourly workers sometimes have to file wage claims against employers when they do not receive payment for the full amount of time that they worked or overtime wages that they earned. Workers with better compensation packages may not have to worry about unpaid overtime or base wages, as they may receive their pay on a salary basis. However, companies might still theoretically violate a salaried worker’s right to pay.

Bonuses can significantly increase what a worker earns. Whether a bonus is contingent on an individual employee’s performance or the company’s profits, workers generally know when they should be eligible for a bonus. Is it possible for employees to bring wage claims over an unpaid bonus in California?

Bonuses are considered wages in many cases

Occasionally, workers believe they should receive bonuses because of what they have heard from other employees. Experiences at other companies may also give them an unfounded sense of entitlement. However, if an employee’s contract clearly makes them eligible for bonuses in certain scenarios, then they may have a right to receive a bonus if the situation meets contractual standards. Under California’s current employment laws, bonuses outlined in employment contracts or employee handbooks are technically wages that companies have an obligation to pay.

If a company refuses to issue a bonus despite the worker’s performance or the company’s finances justifying a bonus, then the worker may have grounds to file a wage claim against the company. Frequently, an organization that denies one employee an earned bonus might do the same thing with multiple other workers who have similar terms in their contracts. If that happens, it may be possible to work as a group to hold the business accountable for failing to uphold its contracts with workers by filing a wage claim lawsuit.

At the end of the day, learning more about California’s wage laws can empower those not receiving the pay that they deserve.

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