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

UPDATED: Apr 29, 2012

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: Apr 29, 2012Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 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.

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.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption