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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I have been manager of a company years and am also in

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I have been manager of a company for 4 years and am also in charge of payroll. I am paid a salary that was agreed to with the owner and is in writing. We also pay commission and the owner had said that I could get a commission as well but this was never put in writing. Now that times are slow he looked at my payroll and said i am making too much and he never agreed to the 1 percent we had discussed years back. He now says it should have only been 1/2 a percent and wants be to pay it back or he will take legal action for theft. Can he do this? He also wants me to sign an agreement to payroll deduct the amount out of my check that states I overpaid myself if I agree to stay and pay it back.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is ***** ***** I will do everything I can to answer your question.
The legality of the deductions will depend on whether you were erroneously being overpaid or whether your employer simply has "buyer's remorse" and wants to recoup money they wish they didn't pay in retrospect. Forcing you to now forfeit earned wages on the latter basis would be illegal. However, if you were genuinely being overpaid by mistake, you received money that was not yours and so are obligated to pay it back and can be made to pay it back via a deduction from your wages moving forward.
Normally, if an employee is paid a certain rate for "years," it will be presumed that the employer intended to pay the employee that rate because they had so long to realize their mistake, if that indeed is what it was. But when the employee is in charge if payroll and essentially paying themselves, it becomes less clear.
Do you have any way of proving that you were actually given the raise? Do you have any way of proving that your employer was aware of the rate at which you were being paid based on the 1% increase? If you can answer yes to at least one of these questions, it's possible you can sue for unauthorized deductions from your wages. But keep in mind that as an alterantve to "deducting" from your wages your employer could just as easily REDUCE your wages and use that reduction to offset what they believe you were overpaid. This is completely legal, regardless of whether the 1% raise was authorized because employers retain complete discretion to set pay, provided they comply with the laws governing minimum wage and overtime.
So, not signing for the deductions may be a futile effort on your part, since there is an easy way for your employer to lawfully bypass your consent. Something to think about.
I hope that you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.
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