A Right to Money After Being Fired

Have you been fired right before an expected bonus or other anticipated financial benefit? If so, you may still have a claim to that money that you were owed.

Here’s a section of my book “The Employee Rights Handbook” that deals with just that. Read now and get informed!

Refusals to Pay Expected Financial Benefits

Many companies fire workers to deprive them of the fruits of their labors. This includes a year-end bonus, commissions, wages, accrued vacation, or pension benefits that are about to vest. In some states, if an employer fires someone just before he or she is supposed to receive anticipated benefits, the firing may be illegal.

Even if the firing is legal, you may be entitled to collect this money in negotiations or during a lawsuit. For example, the Department of Labor in most states requires employers to pay accrued vacation and earned wages to terminated workers. Additionally, you may be able to receive a pension if you are about to qualify for a vested pension but are fired. This is because employers are forbidden in most states and under the federal Employment Retirement Income Security Act from firing longtime workers who are close to receiving such benefits. Consult an experienced employment attorney immediately if you believe you have been victimized in this area.

Salespeople who earn commissions are now receiving additional statutory protections in this area. Many states now require that companies promptly pay commissions to their independent sales representatives (or agents) who are fired. When prompt payment is not made, companies may be liable for penalties up to three times the commission amount plus reasonable attorney fees and court costs if the case is eventually litigated.

Additionally, you may have a valid claim if you are fired right before the payment of a year-end bonus. Some employers require workers to be employed on the day bonus checks are issued as a condition of payment. However, workers are sometimes fired unfairly and are denied bonuses that have been earned. The author represented a man who had worked a full year and was expecting a bonus of $22,500 to be paid on February 15 of the following year. The company’s policy required workers to be employed on the date of payment in order to receive the bonus. The client was fired on February 10 for alleged misconduct due to an unauthorized absence taken the day before. The employer refused to pay severance or the bonus.

I proved that the client had a justifiable excuse for missing work on the day in question and argued that the employer’s policy of paying earned bonuses only if the worker was still employed the following year was unfair. Although I was unable to obtain his reemployment, the client obtained severance pay equivalent to two weeks for every year of employment, as well as the expected bonus.

STRATEGY: Always request a bonus if you are fired close to the end of the year and are entitled to a bonus by contract or job history (i.e., you consistently received bonuses in prior years). If the employer tells you that bonuses are only paid if you are still working on the day the check is issued and that you were fired before then, argue that you would have received the bonus but for the firing. And argue that you are entitled to a pro rata share of the bonus if you are fired close to but before the end of the year. For example, if you are fired on December 1, negotiate to receive eleven-twelfths of the bonus you were expecting.

For a full depth analysis on this topic and many more, visit http://legalstrategiespublishing.com/ to purchase “The Employee Rights Handbook” today!

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