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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I recently resigned from a public company on a dispute on Bonus

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I recently resigned from a public company on a dispute on Bonus payments to executives. I was also an officer / Executive of the company for the past few years,before I resigned.

When I realized that I was paid the lowest in the bonus payments on "arbitrary" decision making by the CEO, I was furious and talked to the CEO. I found during the discussion, that the CEO had no "arguable" points and "reasons" as to why I was the lowest paid in the bonus, while other "mediocre" (In my opinion) executives paid much more than mine.

My argument here is that, there were NO METRICS defined in the beginning of the year, as to what criteria to be applied for the bonus payment. As a public company, the company should have been more organized / processes defined so there would be no disputes of this nature. The CEO and CFO were the 2 high paid executives of the company and they make arbitrary decisions regarding "who should be paid / how much" etc.

Do I have a case to "sue" the executives/company on the ground of "improper practices", especially, this is a public company?

Any legal advise would be highly appreciated.

Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. My goal is to answer your question completely and thoroughly and to provide excellent service.

I am very sorry to hear about the seemingly arbitrary way in which compensation was determined at your former company and I can certainly understand why you find this to be so upsetting.

I hope you don't mind if I provide you with a very direct answer to your question because the law is rather straight forward in regard to this issue.

Regretfully, an employer is under no obligation to set compensation levels in a manner that is reflective of employees' abilities or talent and is free to pay certain employees more than others for completely arbitrary reasons. There is no legal requirement that compensation structures be fair.

The only exception to this general rule is if employees are paid differently due to their race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, marital status, sex, age (over 40), or sexual orientation. This would constitute actionable discrimination.

However, unless an employee can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that differing levels of pay are due to any of the above "protected characteristics," there would be no legal basis to dispute unequal compensation, even if the compensation was entirely unfair.

I am so very sorry to deliver this news to you, as I realize this is not what you were hoping to hear. Nonetheless, I trust you will appreciate an honest and accurate answer to your question and I wish you the very best moving forward.

If you do not have any further concerns, I would be very grateful if you would give my answer a positive rating and click submit, as this is the only way I will receive credit for assisting you. If you have any additional concerns that you would like me to address, please feel free to let me know by hitting the REPLY or CONTINUE CONVERSATION button and I will be more than happy to continue assisting you.

Finally, please bear in mind that none of the above constitutes legal advice nor is any attorney client relationship created between us.

Thank you and very kindest regards.
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