Do I payback an overpayment from my former employer, if they told me the money was mine?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Do I payback an overpayment from my former employer, if they told me the money was mine?

I left my company 3 weeks ago. I got my final paycheck and it was more then I expected after payout of PTO. I emailed them to look into it and make sure the final paycheck was accurate. They the finance department emailed back and told me that the payout was accurate. A week later, they emailed me again saying I was right, and they overpaid me $700. I already spent the money on new tires, and no longer have it. Am I obligated to pay them back, even after they told me in writing that the payout was accurate? I worked for a politician, if that makes a difference.

Asked on October 25, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, you are still liable for the repayment. The fact is that to keep money that is not yours and has not been earned would constitute something in the law known as "unjust enrichment". This is disfavored by the courts. And think about it, had you been underpaid, your former empoyer would legally be obligated to pay you the short fall. That having been said, since you were originally told to keep the money so went ahead and spent itt, the company should work out a repayment arrangement that is affordable for you.

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