If I was supposed to receive 4 weeks of severance pay when my job was eliminated but received a check for 10 weeks, am I legally obligated to pay back the difference?

At the time of my termination I signed a legal document accepting 4 weeks of severance pay. I was very disappointed with this amount inasmuch as I worked for my company for 25 years and 9 months. I managed a retail store and during our closing months of business we far exceeded all sales expectations. When I received a check for 10 weeks of severance I thought I was being rewarded for my time of service and excellent sales. I was contacted a month later and told I needed to return the overpayment.

Asked on June 5, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, you must return this money; you did not earn. To keep it would constitute something in the law known as "unjust enrichment". If you do not return it, your former employer can sue you and take you to court. Think about it, had you been shortchanged on your severance, your ex-employer would owe you.

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, you must return this money; you did not earn. To keep it would constitute something in the law known as "unjust enrichment". If you do not return it, your former employer can sue you and take you to court. Think about it, had you been shortchanged on your severance, your ex-employer would owe you.


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