Dear Annie: I am an associate in a law firm with two offices. Each office has three associate attorneys and is managed by a partner.

During my first year, I was the only associate in my office, and I received a Christmas bonus. The second year, we hired two additional associates. I was devastated when all of the staff but none of the associates received a bonus that year, as I’d planned to use the money to buy gifts for my family. I wasn’t surprised last month when, once again, the associates received nothing. I did discover, however, that all of the associates in the other law office received bonuses.

I understand that a Christmas bonus is not something I am entitled to receive, and if I bring it up to my boss, it would make me sound selfish and greedy.

This is less about the money than it is about the disparate treatment, especially between the two law offices. Is there any way to bring this up to my boss for next season without sounding like a spoiled child?

Struggling Young
Professional

Dear Struggling: We understand why this seems unfair, but unless a yearly bonus is part of your compensation package, such money is given at the discretion of the managing partner. You could ask what you can do to increase the likelihood that you will merit additional pay at the end of the year, or whether something about your performance has been disappointing. Beyond that, you’re out of luck.

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