If my company overpaid all its employees on a recent check, effectively double what we make, am I legally required to pay them back?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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If my company overpaid all its employees on a recent check, effectively double what we make, am I legally required to pay them back?

They have asked twice if I am interested in repaying them. What are the implications if I choose not to? I would not like to be sued.

Asked on January 26, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, California


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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

The law does not allow for "unjust enrichment'. In other words, someone cannot benefit from a mistake. So, in this case, you cannot keep money that you did not earn. Accordingly, your employer could sue you for the amount of the overpayment. Additionally, in an "at will" employment arrangement, and most employment is, an employer can fire an employee for any reason or no reason at all. So not voluntarily making repayment would not be a smart move.
That all having been said, your employer cannot make a deduction from your next paycheck for any amounts owed unless it has your express written consent to do so.

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