California Employment Law
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If there was legitimately an over-payment, your employer can require you to return the money you received that is not yours. However, your employer may not deduct from your wages to reimburse themselves unless you sign an agreement authorizing such deductions. The thing is, if you don't sign, your employer can lawfully terminate your employment (employment in CA is "at will" absent an agreement to the contrary and as such terminable at any time for virtually any reason) or simply reduce your wages moving forward to offset their loss. So, not signing a voluntary repayment agreement will accomplish little more than causing your employer to think that you are uncooperative and thereby damaging your employment relationship. Not signing is not actually going to protect you from having to repay the overpayment, and in fact not signing may cost you your job.
Now, your employer should WANT to provide you with proof that you were actually overpaid. But if they have not already divulged their explanation, it would not be unreasonable to respond by offering to sign the voluntary repayment authorization on the CONDITION that they supply you with their explanation. I don't think any employer would be put off by that as it is entirely reasonable to want to verify that you truly owe something before paying what it is claimed that you are owed.
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