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The small startup company (~6 employees) I worked for was recently acquired by a larger, but still mid-sized company (~200 employees). As part of the acquisition deal, they offered us substantial 3-year retention bonuses on top of signing bonuses, etc. The stipulations of the retention bonus were fairly standard:

  • If I quit before the designated date, I get none of the bonus
  • If they fire me with no cause before the end date, I get a prorated portion of the bonus from the time we were acquired.
  • If I am fired with cause, I get nothing

As of last September (2016), the company started delaying our paychecks by a few days, then weeks, then up to a month. Some of us are 6 paychecks behind. It has put many of us in financial hardship. We live in Oregon, and have given them a "notice of underpayment" (ORS 652.120), which they did not comply with. At this point, many of us are preparing to quit and move on. I plan on filing a complaint with OBLI soon because of their non-compliance.

Do I have a legal leg to stand on to fight for the prorated retention bonus as if I was "fired with no cause", given how I am effectively being forced to quit?

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If you could successfully prove constructive dismissal (you probably could) then you have been terminated and would be entitled to the pro-rata bonus.

Of course, if the company is not in a financial position to pay your wages, it probably can't pay the bonus either.

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