Q: In California, Is a payroll service able to collect "claimed" wage overpayment in violation of Labor Code Sec. 221 ?
Can they threaten the employee? Ask them to sign a bank withdrawal authorization? Attempt multiple bank withdrawals? Harass on line?
A: An employer or its agent is allowed to seek repayment of what it believes to be an overpayment of wages, and you will owe that money back to the company if it was money you did not earn. The law does not allow you to keep money paid to you by mistake. Therefore it is certainly acceptable for it to seek that repayment by way of you signing a withdrawal authorization and to threaten to sue you if you do not agree to voluntarily pay the money back.
Harassment is a term that has many meanings, but if what you mean is they are making multiple attempts to resolve the issue with you then yes they can do that. If by harassment you mean you are receiving many emails from them, that is not unlawful.
By saying that the a making multiple attempts to withdraw money from your bank account without your authorization, that goes too far. If you do not agree to voluntarily repay the money, their recourse is to sue you. Once they get a judgment against you all bets are off and you can expect them to sweep your bank account as often as they desire until they get the money and all of the costs of collection as well.
If you do not believe you have been overpaid and the company is not willing to listen to your evidence, then you likely will need to get an attorney involved.
Good luck to you.
A: An employer cannot resort to "self help" to correct an overpayment of wages, because the law prohibits them from taking back any wages previously paid. This law was designed to stop the practice of getting kickbacks, just to have a job, from the employees, during times of high unemployment. But, the Employer has two options, If you agree that you were overpaid, and will voluntarily pay the money back, is one option- that is why they are seeing a resolution with you. The second option is to sue you and get a judgment, which they can legally collect from your bank account or through a wage garnishment. If the employer retaliates against you because you opposed their attempt to take your money without legal process, this would be in violation of Public Policy and probably cause them even more problems. You should consult with a local attorney practicing Employee Rights.
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