Am I allowed to accept a check if I didn’t actually work?

In June of 2018, I applied to work at a summer camp located in CA. I never
received a call to get hired. The problem is that a few days ago I got a call
from this same company saying that I should call them and send my direct
deposit forms so they can pay me for the hours I have worked. They sent the
forms through their website where I applied from, but I have never worked
there. I’m wondering if it’s illegal to accept the check they want to send me
even though I have never worked there.

Asked on July 31, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, California


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

If someone, is mistakenly paid money that was not earned or otherwise due them, then that person is responsible for paying it back. To allow otherwise would constitute "unjust enrichment". And think about it, if you were actually owed the money and it was mistakenly not paid to you, you would then be entitled to be paid.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You can accept it BUT will have to repay it to them if they discover this was an error and that you never worked or earned the money and it repaid: the law is very clear that paying someone in error does not let them keep money to which they are not entitled. So if they pay you, you can accept; if they never ask for it back, it's yours; but if they request it's return or refund, you will have to repay them.

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