I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation.
Quite simply yes, you have a legal right to be paid the safety bonus
. The bonus, under CA law, is based on something that occurred in the past---and when you finished the quarter and were automatically eligible for the bonus---and the only thing necessary to get the bonus was the passage of time until it was paid, and you didn't need to do anything for the employer additional, then the bonus is due to you even if your employment with the employer terminated after the quarter, and before the bonus was paid.
Additionally, as they are intentionally withholding your wages from you, you may sue for liquidated damages as well.
Under federal laws (FLSA), you are also entitled to what is called Liquidated damages. Liquidated damages is equal to the amount of back wages that they owe you and must be paid in addition to the wages themselves---so you essentially get double overtime wages in the claim based on their willful failure to pay you. http://labor-employment-law.lawyers.com/wage-and-hour-law/Liquidated-Damages-and-FLSA-Claims.html
Here is an excellent article which deals with pursuing an FLSA claim---which you may do in either state court or federal court. Do take the time to review it: http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Pursuing+an+FLSA+claim%3a+many+employers+have+figured+out+how+to+skirt+...-a0183316511
You may reply back to me using the Continue the Conversation or Reply to Expert
link if you have additional questions; and if you do, I ask that you please keep in mind that I do not know what you may already know or with what you need help, unless you tell me.
Please remember to press the smiley faces/stars on the right of your screen when we are finished with our communication so I will be credited for my time in assisting you
. Kindly remember to ONLY rate my answer when you are fully satisfied. If you feel the need to rate anything less than OK, please stop and contact me with whatever issue or clarification you may need. I will be happy to continue further and assist you until I am able to explain your concern to your satisfaction.
I wish you the best in 2012,