Hard to say. Do you have a written employment agreement with them? If so, presumably it would deal with your rights, upon termination of employment. If this promise was outside of the agreement, than that makes it more complicated. At that point, it could be your word against his, and there might even be an argument that he lacked the authority to agree to this.
If not, then you may need to send them a letter, (or have your lawyer do so). It is possible that they are just running this "through proper channels." If that is not the case, you may need to take them to court. A small claims proceeding in Florida is for any matter involving $5,000 or less.
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It appears that your former Employer has "blocked" the payment of this bonus. Your question at this point, is "what is my legal recourse?" In order to determine this answer, you will need to consult with a business attorney and provide them with any and all documentation that you have, including without limitation employment agreements, shareholder's agreements, separation agreements, and the employee handbook. Additionally, if the "bonus" agreement was verbal, you will need to determine if there is any proof or other way to substantiate your version of the terms regarding the verbal agreement to pay you a bonus. While verbal agreements are enforceable in Florida, they can be difficult to prove in these situations.
You'll have a bit of homework to do, as indicated above, but it seems like you certainly have an actionable claim. Most lawyers who specialize in this kind of work charge on an hourly basis. Because of the amount of your claim, it may be best for you to bring the action yourself in small claims court. The rules of procedure are simple and can be easily found on the internet or at your local library. If you go to www.columbiaclerk.com and click on the "forms" tab, you'll find the information and forms necessary to file an action in your county. You may also want to consult with corporate attorney in your area to make sure you weren't cheated in the share buyout. Good luck.
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