Can an employer punish an employee financially for a payroll mistake made by HR department?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Can an employer punish an employee financially for a payroll mistake made by HR department?

My husband was informed that due to
misinformation entered by someone in his
employer’s HR department, he was ‘paid too
much’ and now they’re taking quite a bit out of
his paycheck for it to be paid back. Are they
allowed to punish him like that even though
it’s not his fault?

Asked on October 24, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Kentucky


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

He's not being punished: if there was an error resulting him being paid more than he was entitled for (e.g. more than he actually earned, given his wage and days/hours worked), then he simply losing money he should not have received and had no right to in the first place. The law is clear that you are not allowed to keep money that you only received due to someone's error, even if the error was not your own.

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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