My last employer sent me a check and now the want the money back

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My last employer sent me a check and now the want the money back

My last employer sent me a check months after I quit. I cashed the check, it was
about 180, thinking it was not a mistake and that it was money owed to me.
Months later still they tell me they made a mistake and want the money back.

I worked as a part time teacher. They claim that someone at the school put my
name down as a substitute teacher for class, and that I did not show up to teach
the class. This would have happened months after I told them that I had a new job
and would not be available to teach any classes in the future. No one ever
contacted me about subbing classes after I quit.

I live in San Francisco CA.

Asked on May 10, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The law disfavors what is called "unjust enrichment". In other words, when one person is enriched at the expense of another under circumstances that the law deems unjust. In your case, you'd benefit from your former employer's mistake and receive (or keep) something that you did not earn. And, where a person is unjustly enriched, the law imposes an obligation on them to make restitution. Consequently, you are legally responsible to repay your former employer for the overpayment. And think about it, if you had been underpaid, your ex-employer would be obligated to pay you the shortfall. This all assumes that it can demonstrate that there was in fact an overpayment made.


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