I was terminated from my job on Nov 17. I earned a bonus for the month of October and was told I would be paid that bonus. Now my former company is telling me that I might not be paid the bonus. Do they legally have to pay it since I earned it while still an employee?
That's a tough one. You would need to sit down with an attorney to flesh out the details. On the one hand (and probably the position the company is taking) is that bonuses are discretionary. Now, if the bonus structure of the company "has structure" with definable events and triggers for earning the bonus (non-discretionary bonus), the company will likely say (and it will likely be found in the policy manual) that a condition to receiving a bonus is continued employment on the "pay date." You are probably on the losing end of this issue, but like I said above, the devil is in the details. But, if the bonus is "non discretionary" (based on agreement) and "fully earned" at time employment was severed, you would be entitled to that money.
Here is some brief info from the CO. Dept. of Labor on the subject (not very helpful, but a start).
You need to send your required demand notice (per Dept. of Labor) for payment of wages (see the website).
If the bonus was fully earned (that is not contingent on something to happen latter), the employer is required to pay the bonus and any unused vacation time at the time of your termination as a part of the wages you earned. A failure to make a required payment of wages in Colorado may give rise to a right to recover a statutory penalty and attorneys fees in addition to the amount of the bonus. You should speak to an employment attorney.
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