What to do if my former employer continued to pay me for 3 months which I believed was severance payments but now it claims they were overpayments?

Where do I stand legally?

Asked on May 23, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Kentucky

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, it does not matter what you believed. Employers are under no obligation under law to provide severance; it's up to them whether or not to pay severance. If there was no severance, separation, etc. agreement between you and the employer granting you this severance, or there  was no policy in place of always paying severance in similar situations which would have entitled you to the money (for example: your employer paid severance of 2 weeks plus 1 week per year of service when firing someone; you were fired, and had worked there for 10 years), then this would almost certainly not have been severance--remember, it's only severance IF there is an agreement or policy making it severance. Otherwise, this probably was an accidental overpayment; however, an error or mistake does not give you any right to the money. If it was an overpayment (no severance agreement or policy), then regardless of what you thought, you have to repay it if the employer wants the money back.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.