Can an employer take all of the employees’ paychecks because the employer forgot to take out 7 weeks of insurance?

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Can an employer take all of the employees’ paychecks because the employer forgot to take out 7 weeks of insurance?

This is the third time in the last year that my husband’s employer has taken all of his paycheck because they have forgotten to take something out that should have been taken out weekly. It’s

not just my husband, but all of the employees in the facility that the company continues to do this to. When the corporate office is contacted, they just short of shrug their shoulders and tell everyone they can’t do anything about it. Is this legal? Do we have any rights in this situation? This company

is in a rural part of W. VA. that is the only job opportunity for the majority of people who live here.

Everyone survives paycheck to paycheck and an entire check being taken like this is devastating to say the least. Literally people will be going hungry and not able to put gas in their car this week.

Asked on October 25, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Alaska

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

The issue is, did the employer take out more money in total then they would be entitled to for those 7 weeks? If you ended up paying what you should have, even if it was one lump sum rather than in increments, you do not have a legal claim, because you did not in fact lose anything. Example, say that your paycheck is $700/week, and you should pay $100/week for the insurance. Over 7 weeks, you have $700 taken out and are paid (ignoring taxes for simplicity) the other $4,200, because for each of those seven weeks, you would have $100 taken out and be paid $600, and 7 x $600 = $4,200.
Say instead they forgot to take the $100/week out for 6 weeks; you received 6 x $700 = $4,200. Even if they then took the entire 7th paycheck, you still had $4,200 for 7 weeks in this example and suffered no loss: with no loss, you have no basis for any legal action or other recourse.
That you may live paycheck-to-paycheck is not the company's responsibility; and if you had less taken out for several weeks, you should have been able to accumulate a surplus to carry you through the week they took the whole check.
If they took out too much money, however, more than was required for the insurance for that period of time, that is a different story; in that case, you could sue for the wrongfully taken out excess.
 
 


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