What are my rights if I was overpaid on a check over a month ago due to a computer glitch?

UPDATED: Sep 18, 2011

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What are my rights if I was overpaid on a check over a month ago due to a computer glitch?

I went in today to pick up my paycheck today and they told me that I did not have one because they kept it to re-pay the error. Also, I still owed money so they will be taking money out of my next check also. I did not receive any form of pay stub for hour verification or anything of the like, nor was any amount given as to what was over paid nor owed. The GM made a statement to a few of the employees that because he took everyone’s pay back, it equaled out labor and he is now able to receive his bonus. Is this legal?

Asked on September 18, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

There are two different issues here:

1) If you were overpaid, you have to repay it; an error or mistake does not create a right to keep the overpayment. An error does not entitle you to money. (Consider it from the opposite perspective: if the company accidentally underpaid you, they'd have to make good the shortfall; the error would not let them keep some of your pay.) So the company has a right to get the money back.

2) However, they may *not* unilaterally withhold the money from you pay; employers may not take sums owed them by employees out of employee pay unless the employee consents, or agrees, to it. Instead, if an employee owes the company money and won't repay it, the company has the right to sue the employee.

Of course, even if the company has acted improperly, there's a question as to whether it's worth takin legal action. For example: say you were overpaid $500. The company took $500 out of your paycheck. Doing so was wrongful, but since you were not actually injured, it's not at all clear that a lawsuit would be worthwhile.

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