What to do if You are Overpaid

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I’ve been overpaid!  What now?

As you audit your paycheck, you may discover that you have been paid more than your contract indicates.  In this section, we will discuss the laws that apply to this situation and what your rights are.

The Law

If you search for information on this issue, you may find WAC 296-126-030, which states that the employer has 90 days to find the overpayment, otherwise they cannot take the money back.  This regulation does not apply to public employers, so the 90-day time limit does not apply to employees of Edmonds College.

The college has two options for taking back the money they overpaid to you.

  1. They can file a civil action and take you to court.  In this case, as a member of the union, you would be protected under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
  2. Deduct the extra money from your wages.

The section of the law that applies to the second option is RCW 49.48.200, which says the following:

(1) Debts due the state or a county or city for the overpayment of wages to their respective employees may be recovered by the employer by deductions from subsequent wage payments as provided in RCW 49.48.210, or by civil action. If the overpayment is recovered by deduction from the employee's subsequent wages, each deduction shall not exceed: (a) Five percent of the employee's disposable earnings in a pay period other than the final pay period; or (b) the amount still outstanding from the employee's disposable earnings in the final pay period. The deductions from wages shall continue until the overpayment is fully recouped.

The bolded section means you can choose to have a minimum of 5% of your net pay (that is, what is left after the mandatory deductions from your paycheck) deducted from each paycheck until the money is returned to the college.  You can also choose to have more than 5% deducted.

Your Rights

The law that tells you your rights in an overpayment situation is RCW 49.48.210.  This section describes what you are entitled to do to challenge this overpayment.  This section of the law says that, once you have received notice of the overpayment, you have 20 days to request in writing “that the employer review its finding that an overpayment has occurred. The employee may choose to have the review conducted through written submission of information challenging the overpayment or through a face-to-face meeting with the employer.”  This section of the law also provides a process for challenging the overpayment decision.  If you would like assistance with this petition, please contact our union president at aftedmonds@gmail.com.