Can my employer make me pay them back money I have earned?

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Can my employer make me pay them back money I have earned?

Entering a new work contract and my work stated that they over paid me on the previous contract. I do not receive a pay stub to double check. They reported my earnings to the federal and state tax, as well as social security. Under that contract I received a higher pay rate and now they want me to pay the money back due to the new contract being a lower pay rate,

Asked on April 29, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you were paid the agreed upon--or in this case, from what you write, contractually set--rate previously, then that is NOT "overpayment" and the employer may not recover the money. An agreement, whether oral or written, to work for a certain wage is enforceable; you have to be paid as per that agreement, even if in retrospect, the employer feels they paid you more than they should have. The emloyer has no legal right to force you to return the money. (The sort of overpayment where an employer can get the money back would if someone's hourly rate was $20 per hour, but due to a mistake in inputting payroll, they paid her $29 per hour; or where someone was accidentally issued duplicate paychecks.)

However, the above said, if you currently do not currently have a contract, the employer does not need to re-employ or contract again with you, if they feel that you have cost them money--they can't legally force to return the prior payments, but they can refuse to rehire you.


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