if the company you work for over paid you from the previous year, can they take it back from this year’s income?

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if the company you work for over paid you from the previous year, can they take it back from this year’s income?

They said they made a clerical error and didn’t change my pay code. It wasn’t my mistake and I did both jobs whenever they asked me to. Now they say that I owe them $2800 from last year.

Asked on March 29, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri

Answers:

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

There is something in the law known as "unjust enrichment". This means that a person should not gain from something that they have not earned or have a right to. In this case, an accidental overpayment would qualify. Accordingly, you must return the money. That having been said, your employer cannot just deduct this money from your paycheck, at least not without your permisssion (so check any company handbooks that you may have signed or any applicable employment/union agreements). To collect, your employer will have to either work out a pay arrangment with you or it can sue you in small claims court. It could also terminate your employment.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Were you overpaid? If you were, then you owe them the money: the law is very clear that an accidental overpayment does not let you keep money to which you are not otherwise entitled. If you don't let them take it from your pay, they cannot deduct it without your permission--but they could 1) fire you and 2) sue you (and win) for the money. Therefore, if you were overpaid, you are best off working out a repayment schedule you can live with.


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