What should I do about my situation?

Recently I was let go at my job for accidentally writing the wrong job title under the wrong days. For example serving I made $5.10 and bartending I made $8.50. Our payroll is done weekly and I figured if I wrote the wrong title under the wrong shift the problem would have been corrected. Any changes on a time card are supposed to be signed by a manager and noone ever payed any interest so I figured I was doing the right days. The managers called me in to a meeting and accused me of purposely stealing from the $3 extra an hour. If I don’t pay back the money they threatened to go to the court with the issue. The place runs a sketchy business under reports thousands of dollars in tips for servers a week and as a busser some days you even make less then minimum wage. I’m hoping to be able to pay back what I need to but there is no way to really tell if I switched or picked up a shift. Long story short I am hoping to shed some light on the situation and see if anything could actually happen or if I would be okay if they actually went through with it. I’ve been a mess stressing over this and I just don’t know where to go from here.

Asked on March 21, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Legally, if you did receive overpayments, you'd have to return them or could be sued for the money; the law is very clear that an error, whether yours or theirs or both, does not entitle you to keep money that you should not have been paid in the first place. Practically, it may be difficult for them to prove the overpayments, depending on how good their records are; and even if the can prove it, it may not be cost-effective to sue you forthe amount of money at stake (though bear in mind: people often do non-cost effective things). 
If you do not have any written employment contract guarantying your employment or preventing you from being terminated for this reason, your employer could terminate you over this, if they choose: without a contract, you are an employee at will and may be terminated at any time, for any reason whatsoever, at the employer's free choice. (Or they could do anything less than or short of termination, like cutting your pay or hours, or suspending you.)

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