My last employer sent me a check and now the want the money back

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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My last employer sent me a check and now the want the money back

My last employer sent me a check months after I quit. I cashed the check, it was
about 180, thinking it was not a mistake and that it was money owed to me.
Months later still they tell me they made a mistake and want the money back.

I worked as a part time teacher. They claim that someone at the school put my
name down as a substitute teacher for class, and that I did not show up to teach
the class. This would have happened months after I told them that I had a new job
and would not be available to teach any classes in the future. No one ever
contacted me about subbing classes after I quit.

I live in San Francisco CA.

Asked on May 10, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, California


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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The law disfavors what is called "unjust enrichment". In other words, when one person is enriched at the expense of another under circumstances that the law deems unjust. In your case, you'd benefit from your former employer's mistake and receive (or keep) something that you did not earn. And, where a person is unjustly enriched, the law imposes an obligation on them to make restitution. Consequently, you are legally responsible to repay your former employer for the overpayment. And think about it, if you had been underpaid, your ex-employer would be obligated to pay you the shortfall. This all assumes that it can demonstrate that there was in fact an overpayment made.

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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