Win in Swiss Federal Court – Client receives bonus from major bank plus 5% interest

In BGE 4A_155/2019, the Swiss Federal Court ordered a major bank to pay my client a bonus for the year 2012. In addition to the bonus, 5% interest is due from 2013. The bonus was therefore very well invested as a result of the legal dispute.

For more than 10 years, my client had received a bonus of the same amount and more in addition to the fixed salary. After it became clear in 2012 that the bank would dismiss him, he no longer received a bonus for 2012.

The bonus was owed despite the voluntary nature of the dismissal because the bank always paid him a bonus over more than 10 years. On average, the bonus was always slightly higher than the fixed salary. However, the Federal Supreme Court had already ruled before this decision that a bonus is never owed if an employee earns a lot of money even without a bonus. The limit was set at CHF 367,080.

In 2012, the plaintiff received less than CHF 367,080 and was therefore entitled to be paid the difference up to this amount.

The case would probably have been assessed differently, if the bonus had been calculated each year according to certain criteria. It would then have been mathematically calculable. Depending on the specific terms of the contract, it could then have been that the limit should not have been set at CHF 367,080. Then, even more bonus would have been owed. This is an indication that not all “bonuses” are treated equally in legal terms.