Q: A friend told me that her employer mistakenly overpaid her in 2010, so they set up a payroll deduction for her to repay the money. Accounting mistakenly keyed in $500 instead of the $50-putting her in a financial hole, as her rent check then bounced. Now she is facing penalties/fees from her landlord. Does she have any recourse?
A: She should have recourse. Her company should correct the mistake and should make her whole. Her employer has an obligation to make sure that payments made to her are made correctly. If they made a mistake, they should not only correct that mistake but should offer to cover any fees she incurred as a result of the bounced checks.
While practically speaking that’s what her employer should do, I would suggest that you tell her friend to approach her boss and describe the situation her employer put her in and indicate the fees that she incurred as a result of the company’s error. You’d hope that her boss would offer to pay for the costs of the bounced checks and any penalties and late fees she incurred.
If the employer fails to pay the fees, she might then have to consult with an employment lawyer about her options. But the cost of the lawyer may exceed the fees she incurred. You can only hope the employer is ethical enough to make her whole.