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I Am the Only One Who Did Not Get a Bonus. Is This Legal?

You are a hardworking, conscientious, and reliable employee. Your job performance, in your opinion, is equal to, or exceeds, that of your co-workers. Bonus time comes around, however, and everyone but you receives one. You find yourself wondering “I am the only one who did not get a bonus. Is this legal?” Your questions is perfectly understandable. The answer, however, is not a simple “yes” or “no.” Instead, the answer is “it depends.”

In the United States, workers are fortunate to be protected by a variety of state and federal laws aimed at ensuring that the workplace is free from discriminatory practices and that workers are treated fairly. Fairly, however, does not always mean equal. When it comes to decisions and practices relating to pay rates, bonuses, and even whether an individual is hired or fired, employers have a great deal of autonomy as long as those decisions and practices are not discriminatory in nature. In other words, your employer may decide who receives a bonus, and who does not, using any criteria the employer wishes to use unless the criteria used is protected by state or federal law.

For example, Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits an employer from discriminating in any aspect of employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. Likewise, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religious creed, ancestry, age, sex, national origin or non-job related handicap or disability or the use of a guide or support animal because of the blindness, deafness or physical handicap.

Therefore, if the underlying reason your employer failed to give you a bonus was based in discrimination, it was illegal. For instance, if your employer did not give you a bonus because you are the only female, because you are from the Middle East, or because you have a disability, you would likely have the basis for a claim of discrimination.

If, however, your employer failed to give you a bonus for a non-discriminatory reason, it was legal. For example, if your employer simply doesn’t like you or based the bonuses on days worked instead of production and you worked the least days, you would not have a valid legal claim for discrimination.

Because it is often difficult to know whether an employer’s actions are legal or not, it is always best to consult with an experienced Conshohocken, Pennsylvania employment law attorney if you are concerned about something your employer did, or failed to do. Contact the employment law attorneys at Curley & Rothman, LLC by calling 610-834-8819 today to schedule your free consultation.