“Can I enforce an agreement to raise my pay if most, but not all, of the required conditions were achieved?”

Question: A few years ago my boss and I agreed that I would get a hefty raise if (a) the company achieved a certain level of revenue, and (b) I achieved a certain level of new customer accounts opened up. Well, the company has achieved the agreed level of revenue, although I have not yet achieved the agreed level of new customer accounts opened up. I have worked incredibly hard, and done all anyone could do, but the new number of customer accounts was just not possible.

Since the company got what it really wanted – the required level of revenue – can’t I now insist that they give me what I really wanted – my hefty raise?

Hard Worker
Lynchburg, Virginia

Answer: Sorry, but the “hefty raise” you seek is probably not yours; I don’t think the law in your state, or in any other state, would give you the hefty raise you hoped for.

A “condition” in an agreement is an event or circumstance that must take place before the agreement can be enforced. A condition is like a “trigger” on a gun: if it is not pulled, no bullet comes out of the gun’s barrel.

Your agreement had two separate and distinct “conditions” or “triggers:” (a) the company’s achieving a certain level of revenue AND (b) your achieving a certain number of new customer accounts. According to your agreement, BOTH conditions have to be satisfied – not just one of them – or you don’t get the hefty raise. According to your letter, the second condition has not yet been “triggered,” so you can’t yet get the raise.

Though you’ve worked hard, and the company may have achieved what it “really” wanted, the second condition that you agreed to is what has not happened, and is the reason you are not entitled to the raise.

Sorry for the bad news. The good news is that you’ll probably try to negotiate less conditions – or easier ones to achieve – in your next agreement. Live and learn.

Best, Al Sklover

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© 2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

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