Do I owe the money?

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Do I owe the money?

I have been working for a company that was bought by a company in another state. They disbanded my security department and brought in a new company to run security. They rolled me into that new security company to train the new security officers. I was being paid by both companies the last 2 weeks. I have also been doing work for both companies. The site manager, or point of contact from the original company, told me to just keep doing what I was doing – punching in and out daily. Now he seems to have amnesia and claims he didn’t know I was getting paid by both companies. The original company’s security systems and key systems and the security patrols for the new company. Nowhere in the new companies SOP does it say I should do the other company’s security work. The original company is now claiming that I need to pay them back because they didn’t know I was being paid by both companies. What should I do? I feel the whole thing has been a conflict of interest since the beginning. How screwed am I or am I entitled to my earnings? To this very second I am still on the original company’s payroll and I have never been released from the company. Also, the check I was to receive today was collected from me along with my past 3 weeks paystubs before I left for the day.

Asked on December 8, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The short answer is, if you are accidently double paid or otherwise overpaid--such as paid from two different payrolls for the same work (and note: your employer, whomever that is, at the time, determines what work you do, so you *can* be required to do another company's work)--then you have to return the surplus. An error does not entitle you to keep more pay than the wage or salary you were then earning. Based on what you write, you were paid twice for the same work; they can recover the overage. If they sue you for the money, then from what you write, they will win; you may wish to try to settle this matter voluntarily, with a payment plan you can meet and afford. But if you do this, make sure that the settlement includes some provision that if the other company tries to recover overpayment, etc. from you, that the one you are paying will defend and indemnify (pay for) you--you don't want to be vulnerable to both entities trying to recover money from you.


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