What are an employee’s responsibilities regarding an accidental overpayment?

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What are an employee’s responsibilities regarding an accidental overpayment?

I was hired by a staffing company 3 weeks ago for a temporary position, and then they made me switch to another company because of certain reasons. Both companies keep paying me the same amount for the work I am doing each week, so essentially I’m getting paid twice for work I’m doing. One company is directly depositing it in my bank account and the other is sending me a check by mail. Obviously the company I switched from is mistaken and shouldn’t be paying me but am I liable of anything by cashing the mistaken checks they are sending me?

Asked on October 6, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Legally, if an employee is overpaid, they must repay it. Someone does not have a right to money because it was given to them by mistake, and without a right to entitlement, it must be returned. Think about it, if you were underpaid by mistake, you'd have a right to the amount of the shortfall; the company could not keep it due to the error.

Additionally, there is no law specifying how employees have to repay overpayments; therefore, your employer can require repayment within a shorter timeframe than the overpayment itself had taken. In other words, they could request it back immediately.

Bottom line, you need to clear this up ASAP.


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