Micron accused of messing with employee bonuses, sued for $20 million

A Micron Technology Inc. worker in Boise is suing the company, saying it lied to workers about how their bonuses for 2018 were determined.

Chris Manning’s lawsuit says the Boise memory-chip maker sets aside money each year to pay its employees a performance-based bonus. The managers evaluate each worker’s job performance and assign a score that affects how large or small the worker’s bonus will be. A score of 5 is the highest and most well-rewarded score, and 1 the lowest.

Manning, a senior fulfillment specialist, alleges that the company told employees their scores were based solely on how well they were doing their jobs, when actually the workers were being graded on a curve, which reduced bonuses for some of them.

A spokeswoman for Micron said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

Manning’s Boise-based attorney, Eric Rossman, said he estimates 20% to 30% of Micron’s local employees are affected. The lawsuit, filed in state district court in Boise, seeks class-action status for Manning and other workers. The lawsuit estimates damages are more than $20 million — triple the amount of unpaid bonuses.

According to the lawsuit, Micron documents said scores should be based only on work quality. “And remember, team members’ performance rating and documentation should always reflect their actual performance and not be changed to meet a distribution range,” a Micron document said.

But in September 2018, as bonuses were being determined for the fiscal year that ended Aug. 30, Manning was told “by his supervisors to award performance ratings based on quotas to those employees he was evaluating, across all rating levels from ‘five’ to ‘one,’” the lawsuit says. “For example, Mr. Manning was directed to give at least 10% of all employees he was rating an overall score of ‘two.’”

Manning objected, the lawsuit says. One of the higher-ups in the company sent an email that month that said, “I need my org to align the 10% rating of 2’s,” the lawsuit says. “I need you guys to go get your orgs to align to this requirement or I will have to do it for you. I understand that we will be rating people a 2 that we have recently told them they were doing a fine job.”

The email said some managers had pushed back against the orders, but that all of them eventually hit the 10% target, and that Micron “will NOT ACCEPT anything less than 10%,” the lawsuit says.

Manning complied. He and his boss went into the employees’ performance evaluations to downgrade their ratings, the lawsuit says.

While they were in the system, “Manning was able to view his own performance evaluation and rating,” and he saw that it was dropped to a “three” from a “four,” the lawsuit says. That downgrade resulted in about $18,000 less than he should have received for his bonus, the lawsuit says.

Manning has worked for Micron since 1988 and still works there, according to his attorney.

Micron employs about 34,000 people worldwide, including about 6,000 in Boise. Since it ended chip manufacturing in Boise 10 years ago, Micron has turned its corporate campus on Federal Way into a research, development and administrative center that recruits scientists and engineers from around the world.

Editor’s note: The estimated share of employees affected has been corrected.

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