Can a company that you recently worked for come after you for excess wages?

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Can a company that you recently worked for come after you for excess wages?

I recently left an employer. They have had their collections department contact me to go over some of the accounts that I helped to manage. They are claiming that I fraudulently charged clients to receive a higher commission check. They want me to review these accounts with them in detail and if I admit to wrong-doing, they want me to pay back the difference in what they paid me and what I should have been paid. I am no longer with that company and I do not know what I am legally liable for.

Asked on September 12, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you were overpaid for any reason, you are liable for the amount of the overpayment. That is, you can only keep money to which you were legally entitled, such as the amount of commissions you should have earned on a given amount of sales. Even if the reason for the overpayment--assuming there was an overpayment--for an innocent error, you'd still have to return the overpayment; an error does not create a right to keep the money. (Look at it from the opposite perspective: if they had underpaid you due to an error, they'd have to make good the underpayment; the error would not entitle them to keep some of your money.) And if the overpayment was due to some deliberate or intentional act by you, not only are you liable for the amount of the overpayment, but potentially for other damages (e.g. legal fees; punative damages) as well--and you could face criminal charges, too, since knowingly or deliberately taking money to which you are not entitled is theft.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you were overpaid for any reason, you are liable for the amount of the overpayment. That is, you can only keep money to which you were legally entitled, such as the amount of commissions you should have earned on a given amount of sales. Even if the reason for the overpayment--assuming there was an overpayment--for an innocent error, you'd still have to return the overpayment; an error does not create a right to keep the money. (Look at it from the opposite perspective: if they had underpaid you due to an error, they'd have to make good the underpayment; the error would not entitle them to keep some of your money.) And if the overpayment was due to some deliberate or intentional act by you, not only are you liable for the amount of the overpayment, but potentially for other damages (e.g. legal fees; punative damages) as well--and you could face criminal charges, too, since knowingly or deliberately taking money to which you are not entitled is theft.


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