AstraZeneca Refused to Pay Full Bonus to US Remote Worker, Lawsuit Claims

By Daniel Wiessner | September 21, 2023

AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP has been sued in the U.S. by a former senior director who claims the drugmaker refused to pay her nearly $130,000 in promised bonuses and stock options because she worked from home full-time.

Elmarie Bodes, who was AstraZeneca’s senior director of business transformation until January, said in the lawsuit filed in South Carolina state court on Tuesday that she was owed a $124,000 performance bonus and $65,000 in stock options.

Instead, AstraZeneca earlier this year cut her payout in half and refused to grant any stock options because she did not come into the office at least three days per week, according to the lawsuit.

AstraZeneca, which is based in London and has U.S. headquarters in Delaware, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit claims AstraZeneca gave no prior notice that it would condition bonuses on whether employees reported to the office.

Companies in employment agreements often reserve the right to exercise discretion in awarding bonuses.

Bodes accused AstraZeneca of breach of contract and failure to pay wages in violation of South Carolina law. She is seeking to recoup the money she claims she is owed along with other damages.

The lawsuit is the latest to stem from the explosion of remote work that began during the COVID-19 pandemic, though most of the litigation involves claims that companies refused to cover expenses related to working from home or that workers with disabilities were unable to return to the office.

In March, a California federal judge refused to allow an employee to pursue claims on behalf of nearly 7,000 other workers that the online retailer did not cover home office expenses. The judge said the plaintiff failed to identify a company-wide policy of not reimbursing employees for those costs, noting that at least 600 workers were reimbursed.

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