California Employment Law
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Hello. Thank you for submitting your question and allowing me to assist you.
I am sorry to hear about your situation. First, you need to try to write down everything you can to help you prove that you didn't over pay anyone. For example, how many employees were there, how much money did you pay them, how did you determine what to pay them, who gave you the funds, how many hours did each employee work, how much did you pay per hour, etc.
Second, who authorized you to pay the employees? Who gave you the payroll checks? Who calculated out the checks and then printed them out?
Third, what documents can you think of that will prove that you were correct in paying the employees what you paid them? Can you speak to the employees and get statements from them about the number of hours each person worked? Did the employees turn in time sheets that had more hours on the time sheets than they worked? If so, who was responsible for checking this calculation?
After you get all of this information on paper, I suggest you go to the highest person in the company and ask to meet with him or her and show that person why you could not have been the person who over paid the employees.
Fourth, depending on the circumstances, it may be hard for them to sue you. The company gave you the money and depending on the amount "overpaid" it may not justify a lawsuit. You should collect as much information as you can to defend yourself. They may just be threatening you to try to get you to come up with the funds.
Finally, if the employees were over paid, the company can, under appropriate circumstances, recover the money from each individual worker. If the workers were really over paid and if the company recovers the money from the workers, there may be nothing for the company to recover from you.
You may want to speak to a local attorney once your get your information together and have him or her write the company a letter on your behalf. A letter from the attorney may be enough to convince the company to not follow through on the threat. Additionally, you may want to have the attorney remind them that companies who knowingly lie about an employee or former employee may be liable for damages incurred by that employee. This claim is known a a defamation claim.
I hope this information is helpful to you. If you have follow up questions, please let me know. You can request me to assist you by asking for me by name.
Best of luck!
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