As an independent contractor am I liable for paying back overpaid wages to me 7 months ago? NY State

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As an independent contractor am I liable for paying back overpaid wages to me 7 months ago? NY State

I am an independent contractor, working for a small medical company in NY. My
employer audited last year’s wages and mistakes were found, overpayment to me.
The employee who had calculated the overpaid amount is no longer with the
company. This overpayment happened seven months ago. Can the company
legally deduct my wages now, to pay them back the overpaid amount, without me
agreeing to it? Am I liable?

Asked on June 23, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

1) Yes, you are liable to repay the money: the law is very clear that a mistake does not let you keep money to which you are not otherwise entitled. Just as if you accidently double paid your plumber or electrician or credit card company or car loan (forgetting that you'd already written one check, you wrote another), they'd have to return the money or give you a credit against the next month's bill and couldn't simply keep your double payment, so, too, do you have to return the overpayment.
2) They cannot deduct the moneu from your wages without hour consent. You probably want to consent, however, since if you don't, they could fire you (unless you have a written contract which, by its terms, prevents termination for this reason or under these circumstances) and/or sue you for the money.


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