School District Demanding More Than $23,000 from Employee After Overpaying Her for Almost Six Years
A lunchroom manager is asking for help after receiving a notice that she must repay over $23,000 to the school system she works for due to a payment error on their part.
To make matters worse, the payment error was due to an oversight by the school system and the employee only has a few days to figure out how she will pay the money back.
Christie Payne is a lunchroom manager in the Chilton County School District and according to the document she received in the mail, she has been getting overpaid for the last six years.
The school system is claiming that Payne owes them more than $23,000—a number that she has no clue how she will be able to pay back. Payne tells WBRC that she had no clue she was even being overpaid after moving from assistant lunchroom manager to manager at her school, according to a representative with the Alabama Educator's Association.
She was not aware. Being that she moved from an assistant manager position to a manager position, so you see an increase so you think ok lets go with it.
The total amount owed is $23,465 and the district laid out a few different payment plans including monthly payments, annual payments, or one lump sum.
Payne can pay $325.91 monthly for 72 months, $3,910.90 annually for the next six years, or pay in one lump sum.
The AEA legal team is currently reviewing documents to explore Payne's options, but after she posted her letter on Facebook asking for help, commenters were outraged over her situation.
By far, the most popular responses surrounded the audacity of the idea that Payne was somehow on the hook for someone else's error.
The community vowed to have her back after it was alleged that this exact situation may have happened to others due to someone else's oversight.
Christie replied to one commenter saying that she trusted that the people who were in charge of payroll would be aware of something like this and "assumed they knew what they were doing."
One commenter pointed out how outrageous it was that this error went unchecked for nearly seven years.
Another commenter was alarmed that the state wouldn't have caught this error via audit at some point but believes they will make the situation right somehow.
Others weren't so understanding.
WBRC's report claims legal experts have weighed in saying that the district may be in a tough spot due to the time that has lapsed in this whole situation.
If I was her attorney, I would want to know how often do you audit. Should you have known that you were overpaying her earlier? There was no evidence at this point that there was ever an audit done, but employers do have an obligation to make sure their payroll is correct.
One potentially tough pill to swallow is the fact that Payne will essentially have to pay more money back (due to interest if she chooses payment options) while making less money due to the fact that what she believed to be her current salary is actually a lower amount.
She is now not only out the amount of money she was being overpaid that she had budgeted for. But, now she is being asked, really demanded, to pay that amount back. It is a double whammy. If you don’t do a good job with your records, and you overpay somebody, you shouldn’t really be in a situation where that person gets penalized.
WBRC reached out to the Chilton County Superintendent who says he "can not comment because of employee privacy rights" nor would he tell them if any other employees have been overpaid.
See the full story here and tell us what you think should be done to resolve this situation fairly.