Archives: Bonuses

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Second Circuit Affirms: Business Not Obligated to Pay $350,000 “Performance” Bonus to Prospective Employee Who Never Worked A Day

Last year, a Manhattan federal district judge reviewed a decision of a federal bankruptcy court and held that Lehman Brothers was not required to pay a $350,000 performance bonus referenced in the offer letter of a prospective employee who never provided services. In doing so, the Court observed that the Firm terminated the contractual relationship … Continue Reading

Commissioned Sales Employee Not Entitled To Commission Payment Under The Plain Language Of Incentive Compensation Plan

This blog has stressed (most recently here and here) the importance of carefully drafting incentive compensations plans to avoid unintentionally converting incentive compensation into earned “wages” protected under state law.   Another recent decision, this one from the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reinforces the employer benefits of careful drafting. Lawson v. Sun Microsystems, … Continue Reading

Manhattan Federal Court: Financial Firm Retained Discretion to Award or Not Award Bonus

As we recently noted in our discussion of Massachusetts law, incentive compensation has the potential to become “wages” protected by state labor law once it is “earned.” However, when an employer conveys to the employee that it retains discretion to award or not award incentive compensation in any specific amount, such potential incentive compensation (whether … Continue Reading

Massachusetts Federal Court: Discretionary Bonus Not “Earned” Commission Protected by Massachusetts Minimum Wage Act

An employee’s entitlement to incentive compensation continues to be a litigation issue. Recently, a Massachusetts federal district court held that an employer’s refusal to award an employee a discretionary bonus does not violate the Massachusetts Wage Act. Comley v. Media Planning Grp., No. 14-10032, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76383 (D. Mass. June 12, 2015). In … Continue Reading

District Court Affirms: Business Not Obligated to Pay $350,000 Performance Bonus to Employee Who Never Worked a Day

The importance of detailed drafting of employment documents – particularly those calling for commissions, bonuses or other types of incentive compensation – was highlighted recently by a plaintiff’s claim that, as a conditional hire who never worked a day at now-defunct Lehman Brothers, the Bank’s rescinding of her employment offer triggered its obligation to pay … Continue Reading

Indiana Appeals Court: Club Not “Employer” For Purposes of Commissions Claim

While wage-and-hour laws, like other employment laws. are generally “broad” and intended to foster the goal of worker protection, the scope of such laws is not limitless, as demonstrated by a recent decision from an Indiana appeals court addressing an alleged multiple or joint employer scenario.  Rodriguez v. S. Dunes Golf, LLC, 2014 Ind. App. … Continue Reading

New York State Court Reiterates That Commissions Are Not Wages Until Earned

Ensuring contracts and agreements reflect when incentive compensation – usually “commissions” – is earned is of paramount importance to New York employers who wish to maximize their rights, as evidenced by a recent decision from New York County Supreme Court Justice Ellen M. Coin.  Sherwin v Mestel & Co. N.Y., LLC, 2014 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS … Continue Reading

Clarifying Recent Legislative Amendment, Nebraska Supreme Court Addresses Entitlement To Commissions Under State Law, Contract

As we recently discussed, while the FLSA does not regulate the payment of incentive compensation (such as, for example, commissions and bonuses), many state laws do.  In Nebraska, an employee’s right to commissions is governed by a recently amended statute, Nebraska Revised Statute § 48-1229(4).  A new decision from that state’s highest court addresses an … Continue Reading

Illinois Court Rejects Attorney’s Claim For Alleged Unpaid Bonus

Similar to the wage-and-hour enforcement scheme of many other states including New York, in Illinois, the payment of incentive compensation is largely a matter of contract.  Entitlement to incentive compensation, in particular bonuses paid pursuant to a company policy taking into account many criteria, under the governing statute attaches when the terms of the contract … Continue Reading

New York Federal Court Upholds Payment of Overtime Pursuant to Fluctuating Workweek Method Notwithstanding Bonus Pay

Uncertainty and litigation have ensued in the wake of the Department of Labor’s May 5, 2011 Final Rule regarding application of the fluctuating workweek method of overtime compensation (FWW) authorized by 29 CFR § 778.114, specifically the Rule’s commentary on the payment of incentive compensation to employees compensated via FWW.  In a thorough recent decision, … Continue Reading

California Enacts Written Commission Plan Law

As discussed by our colleagues at the California Workplace Blog, California governor Jerry Brown has signed into law AB 1396, requiring all employers doing business in California to draft written contracts for any agreements with employees that involve commissions as a method of payment for services.  California joins New York in the vanguard of making … Continue Reading

Circuit Court Confirms That Bonus Structure Based On Hours Worked Did Not Negate Employer’s Compliance With Salary Basis Test

The “salary basis” test is by far the most straightforward component of the white collar overtime exemptions, requiring only a fixed salary of $455/week (subject to state law) paid in compliance with the requirements of 29 CFR § 541.602. However, an employer’s use of an unusual compensation or bonus structure can still result in allegations that … Continue Reading

SDNY Judge Holds That Express Language In Offer Letter Precludes Bonus Claims

While in New York all employees are at-will absent contractual language to the contrary, an employer may (intentionally or unintentionally) create a “contract” with an employee governing certain terms of employment (such as bonus compensation) without destroying the at-will nature of employment.  Properly drafted and agreed upon, such a contract can preclude employees from later … Continue Reading
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