I have been with a company for 4 years, and transferred to a different position in December. As part of that, the signed offer letter states that I should receive a guaranteed bonus that will be paid in three monthly installments starting January of this year. Nothing was paid out in January and my manager will not give me answers on when this will occur or the dates it will be paid out. Worried as they stated clearly in January, but the next pay period will be 2/15 and my manager stated he is not sure if it will be on that and that it could be a lump sum near the end which is concerning.
If the employer has agreed in writing to pay the bonus in your offer letter, its failure to pay is a breach of the contract. However, from your brief, I did not see the employer refused to pay. Though failure to make the payments on time is also a breach of contract, compare to the costs of hiring an attorney to sue your employer immediately, I suggest you to negotiate with the employer first, which will be more cost effective and time efficient. If they clearly refused to pay or still did not pay after you tried several times, you can proceed with the litigation. You are advised to consult an attorney to help you review your contract and all the facts.
You should consult with an employment lawyer because you may have a viable wage claim and/or breach of contract claim under Wisconsin law. Assuming you're not a managerial or commissioned sales employee, compensation agreed upon in writing is subject to Wis. Stat. § 109, which avails Wisconsin employees to their earned wages, penalties, and payment by the employer of their attorney fees incurred in pursuit of their wages.
I have extensive experience dealing with these types of situations, and can tell you there is no one answer, or cookie-cutter answer, that an attorney could provide you via Avvo that you could rely on. Acquiring unpaid wages requires a process. What that process is, or how long it takes, depends greatly on the circumstances. For example, sometimes I recommend a given worker hire an attorney to communicate about settlement and/or litigate with the employer. Other times, I recommend the worker do nothing except wait longer for the employer to do what it promised. You should consult with a WI employee rights attorney -- directly, by phone or office conference-- and only after direct consultation in detail with you could an attorney advise you about what (if any) viable legal options may exist.
The answer above is not legal advice.
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