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

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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