COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A company employing thousands of people in central Ohio is asking its workers to pay the company. Honda sent a memo to employees at its Marysville factory, saying it overpaid bonuses and needs that extra money back.
Employees say returning the money will be hard for their families, but an attorney not involved with this case said Honda is properly going about collecting the overpayments.
“Not a lot of people can handle this kind of a hit,” said the wife of a Honda employee, who spoke with NBC4 on the condition that she or her husband not be identified.
She provided a copy of the memo her husband received from his employer Tuesday, informing him that his recent bonus was overpaid.
“I asked him that — I said, you know, ‘Was this… the highest check you’d ever gotten for a bonus check — that it seemed weird?’ And he said no, it wasn’t the highest he’d ever gotten.”
According to the memo, the employee owed back just shy of 8% of his bonus payment, amounting to hundreds of dollars.
“That’s, you know, a car payment. That’s half of our mortgage,” his wife said. “That’s two, three weeks worth of groceries. That’s a lot of money for us.”
Sarah Cole is a law professor at the Ohio State University, specializing in employment and labor. She said aside from the company’s initial mistake of overpaying employees, Honda is handling this situation correctly.
“Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which applies to all employers in the United States, it’s quite clear that overpayments of bonuses or wages can be recouped by the employer,” Cole said.
The memo gives employees until Sept. 22 to choose whether they’d like the amount they owe to be taken out of future paychecks, deducted from future bonuses or paid upfront. Otherwise, Honda will deduct from future bonuses by default.
Cole’s advice to employees is to choose the best option for them.
“Honda could pursue this in court. But of course, that would be very expensive for them to do and obviously not look very positive from a publicity standpoint,” Cole said. “So I’m sure they’re hoping to have voluntary agreement with the employees that the employee just willingly repays the overpayment.”
Honda responded to messages from NBC4 with an email statement on Friday:
Earlier this month Honda provided bonus payments to its associates, some of whom received overpayments. Issues related to compensation are a sensitive matter and we are working quickly on this item to minimize any potential impact to our associates. Since this is a personnel issue, we have no further information to provide related to this matter.Chris Abbruzzese, Honda spokesperson.