The company I work at offers a referral bonus for employees introduced and hired for 3 months. It’s about $3,000

I’ve referred a total of 6 people who all got hired. I’ve received payment for 4. But they are telling me they won’t pay me for the other two because they hired them as full-time contractors.

I have evidence of the CEO stating the offer in email, private message and public company message as well as co-workers who know of the deal.

They only stated “if you refer somebody and they get hired for 3 months, you’ll get $3,000”

Would this make a good case to hire a lawyer on? As $6,000 is a large sum of money

  • 2
    Regardless of the legality: suing your employer will not help your career there.
    – Hilmar
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 12:47
  • @Hilmar well, my team was recently bought by a different company. CEOs changed. Hence why he’s playing dirty now
    – anon
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 15:00
  • So you want out anyway ?
    – Hilmar
    Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 12:37

1 Answer 1


Would this make a good case to hire a lawyer on?

You have a viable claim of breach of contract unless the [bonus] offer made to you is bizarre enough to exclude hires which exceed three months. But the focus on whether or not to retain a lawyer is pointless because you might end up hiring one who is too expensive, incompetent, or both.

The first thing you need to ascertain is whether the amount owed to you shall be litigated in Small Claims court (if that forum exists in your country or jurisdiction). Each jurisdiction specifies the maximum amount that shall be litigated therein.

If your matter has to be litigated in Small Claims court, then you need to figure out whether parties are allowed to be represented by a lawyer. Some or many jurisdictions require the parties to represent themselves, not through attorneys.

If you are allowed to retain a lawyer (be it because your matter is not within the jurisdiction of Small Claims or because that forum permits lawyers), then you need to ponder whether your net compensation --that is, after deducting attorney fees-- is worth the likely deterioration in your relation with the employer (for instance, what if the lawyer wants to bill you $5,900 for his services?).

If the doctrine of at-will employment is applicable to your context, you also need to assess the likelihood that the aforementioned deterioration will prompt the employer to terminate you.

That being said, I would never discourage from pursuing your viable claim. The fact that your employer is defrauding you on this issue shows his propensity to defraud you again in the future. I am only pointing out some of the risks you need to weigh so that you make an informed decision on how to proceed.

  • Thank you for the information. There was no signed contract to them agreeing to this. It was simply stated publicly multiple times in person around employees and multiples times in email/slack channels. Do you think a contract would be necessary?
    – anon
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 11:05
  • 3
    @TrevorWood "Do you think a contract would be necessary?" The evidence you have is cognizable as contract: It contains a offer (a public one in your case, although that does not matter) on which you exercised your power of acceptance without the offer having been revoked yet. See Restatement (Second) of Contracts at § 46 (regarding public offers) and §50(2) (regarding your acceptance by performance). Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 11:13
  • 1
    Thank you very much for this information.
    – anon
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 11:18
  • 1
    Note that while matters up to a certain dollar amount are in many US states allowed to be brought in a small claims court, in few if any states is one required to use such a court. Fees are generally lower and process simpler in a small claims court. Some jurisdictions allow a lawyer, but most permit and encourage self-representation in small claims, and some require self-rep in small claims. Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 18:39
  • The Restatement (Second) of Contracts is available here, now that the law firm of the link in my previous comment removed that resource and posted some useless "overview of contract law" instead. Commented Jan 3, 2020 at 15:18

You must log in to answer this question.