If my employer overpaid me and is asking for the money back via cashier’s check or a money order in 1 lump sum, is this legal?

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If my employer overpaid me and is asking for the money back via cashier’s check or a money order in 1 lump sum, is this legal?

This sum of money is more than my monthly income.

Asked on August 11, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If you were overpaid, your employer is legally entitled to get the money back--even if it was their mistake (since, mistake or not, you did not earn or otherwise have any legal entitlement to the money). If you do not repay it voluntarily the way they want you to, they could sue you; so if don't repay it as they want, you have to be prepared that you could face a lawsuit. You could also be terminated if you do not have a written employment contract protecting your employment or otherwise limited the reasons you could be terminated, since if you do not have an employment contract, you are an "employee at will" and may be fired at any time for any reason.

In the future, if paid more than you think you should be, deposit the extra money in a savings account and do not touch it until you determine that it is yours to keep; that way, if you must return, you can.


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