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Here''s your pink slip! And oops, we paid too much severance, can we have it back?

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TravelingGal

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http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29353191/

So Microsoft paid too much severance to its laid off employees.

Now, ethically, these people should pay it back. But I''m wondering...would you? And if these people don''t, do you think MS is going to legally go after them?
 

Italiahaircolor

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Date: 2/23/2009 3:24:43 PM
Author:TravelingGal
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29353191/

So Microsoft paid too much severance to its laid off employees.

Now, ethically, these people should pay it back. But I''m wondering...would you? And if these people don''t, do you think MS is going to legally go after them?
I think legal action would depend on exactly how overpaid these workers were...are we talking hundreds, thousands, or hundreds of thousands?

It sucks for MS...but these ex-employees are all probably living very ''complicated'' lives right now...being out of work, poor economy...and we can all admit, when it comes to cash, every little bit helps...so, as much as I hate to say this, I don''t think they should give it back. And considering MS made the mistake, they need to own it and let it go. I''m sure many of these people didn''t realize there had been a mistake when they received their checks and that money has probably been, in many cases, spent. If MS goes after unemployeed people for money that will make them look horrible, esspecially in this economy.
 

TravelingGal

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btw, my answer would be this (and this is my honest answer...)

If I knew they had made the mistake when I got the money, I''d contact them and pay them back.

If I wasn''t very good at numbers and honestly didn''t know they had made a mistake and SPENT the money on expenses, I would say I would pay them back on my own terms - meaning when I got a job and I would ask to do it in payments. They''d have to wait for it because it was their mistake, even though I was too dumb to realize it.

I just really wonder though if people DON''T pay them back, if they will go after the money. Seems like in this economy, they will have a bit of an uphill battle.
 

MichelleCarmen

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We don't know by how much Microsoft overpaid. . .chances are if was any significant amount, the laid off employees knew there was a glitch and probably were expecting Microsoft to find out and held onto the money for that reason.

I'd pay back the money. A person would have to be an idiot not to, because he/she will need MS as a job reference.

MS will legally go after those who don't pay back if the money is a substantial amount.
 

FrekeChild

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I''d check with my lawyer. But I would initially say no. And I don''t think MS should go back after them either.

If I were a nice person I would give it back, but at the same time, they are the ones that laid me off, and they made the mistake. Why should I pay them back when they screwed me over?
 

TravelingGal

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Date: 2/23/2009 3:32:18 PM
Author: FrekeChild
I''d check with my lawyer. But I would initially say no. And I don''t think MS should go back after them either.

If I were a nice person I would give it back, but at the same time, they are the ones that laid me off, and they made the mistake. Why should I pay them back when they screwed me over?
But did they screw you over?

(Playing Devil''s Advocate)

These are tough times...Microsoft is trying to stay profitable and in business to keep offering us products we all use. It wasn''t personal, it was a business decision to remain afloat. Shouldn''t you pay them back because it''s not your money?

Would it be theft to keep money that isn''t yours? Or is it not theft because they mistakenly gave it to you in the first place? I mean, if someone gave you a box of your posssesions and a ring was in it that they didn''t mean to give you, would you keep it even after they asked for it back saying they misplaced the ring? Would you say, sorry, YOU made the mistake and now I am keeping your engagement ring? Wouldn''t it at that point be theft??

Don''t get me wrong...I''m just playing devil''s advocate here, because if I were in those employees shoes, I could see myself feeling EXACTLY the way you put it above.
 

Clairitek

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This sort of happened to me when I left my first graduate school. They overpaid me by a few hundred dollars on my last paycheck (which was a ton of money to me at the time) and asked for the money to be returned. I did it because I knew from the second I looked at my last pay stub that it was wrong.

I must admit that I am not positive I would pay this back to Microsoft if I were in the shoes of one of the former employees. I know its not my place to decide which corporations/employers are deserving of the money and which aren''t but I wouldn''t feel bad taking money from a company like that, as opposed to a university.
 

MichelleCarmen

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Well, some were underpaid, as well. Should that mistake be sucked up by the those laid off workers?

I'm not trying to defend MS, but more trying to defend eithics. Microsoft should either drop it and let the people keep the money OR the money should be given back. Like TG said, it's theft to keep the money.
 

TravelingGal

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Date: 2/23/2009 3:38:55 PM
Author: Clairitek
This sort of happened to me when I left my first graduate school. They overpaid me by a few hundred dollars on my last paycheck (which was a ton of money to me at the time) and asked for the money to be returned. I did it because I knew from the second I looked at my last pay stub that it was wrong.

I must admit that I am not positive I would pay this back to Microsoft if I were in the shoes of one of the former employees. I know its not my place to decide which corporations/employers are deserving of the money and which aren''t but I wouldn''t feel bad taking money from a company like that, as opposed to a university.
I don''t think you are the only one who feels that way. A lot of generally moral, upstanding people have no problem taking post it pads, pens, or whatever from their company because they don''t feel bad taking from companies where they see so much mismanagement. The same people would never steal those items from Office Depot or similar store. At one place, it''s stealing. The other, it''s just taking - because they can get away with it.
 

Italiahaircolor

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I think MS should have double, triple checked their figures before sending the checks out.

Its truly not these ex-employees fault that this happened. Unlike with a paycheck, a severance check is something you recieve only once...so there isn''t a "regular" amount you should be on the look out for. And truthfully, unless MS shared with the recently fired employees the equation by which severance is determined, these ex-employees would be totally in the dark over how a figure was reached--high, low or indifferent.
 

MichelleCarmen

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Date: 2/23/2009 3:42:27 PM
Author: TravelingGal


Date: 2/23/2009 3:38:55 PM
Author: Clairitek
This sort of happened to me when I left my first graduate school. They overpaid me by a few hundred dollars on my last paycheck (which was a ton of money to me at the time) and asked for the money to be returned. I did it because I knew from the second I looked at my last pay stub that it was wrong.

I must admit that I am not positive I would pay this back to Microsoft if I were in the shoes of one of the former employees. I know its not my place to decide which corporations/employers are deserving of the money and which aren't but I wouldn't feel bad taking money from a company like that, as opposed to a university.
I don't think you are the only one who feels that way. A lot of generally moral, upstanding people have no problem taking post it pads, pens, or whatever from their company because they don't feel bad taking from companies where they see so much mismanagement. The same people would never steal those items from Office Depot or similar store. At one place, it's stealing. The other, it's just taking - because they can get away with it.
Microsoft has always treated their employees very nicely and the employees are lucky to get severence packages to begin with. A lot of my friends' husbands work for MS and none of them have every complained about the company. Job cuts are coming left and right and those who are lucky enough to get a severance package, should count their blessings, not take advantage of it.

Still, we do not even know how much they over paid by. . .if you look at the letter in the link I posted, the top gross over payment amount that is blacked out looks like there is space for enough digits to equal up to $999.99.
 

TravelingGal

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Date: 2/23/2009 3:49:02 PM
Author: Italiahaircolor
I think MS should have double, triple checked their figures before sending the checks out.

Its truly not these ex-employees fault that this happened. Unlike with a paycheck, a severance check is something you recieve only once...so there isn''t a ''regular'' amount you should be on the look out for. And truthfully, unless MS shared with the recently fired employees the equation by which severance is determined, these ex-employees would be totally in the dark over how a figure was reached--high, low or indifferent.
I agree, but I do think that even in a one time check you generally know. Every company I''ve worked in has a severance policy. Usually 2 weeks severance for every year you''ve worked there. So you would have a ballpark idea how much you would be getting. If I was over paid by 200 bucks, I probably wouldn''t notice. 1000 bucks, I think I would.
 

FrekeChild

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It just depends TGal. I tend to agree with Clairitek.

I think a lot of it has to do with how everything was handled. Was the employee an upstanding employee? Was that employee mistreated in any way?

Really I think MS should just own up to the mistake, and perhaps ask for half of it back instead of the whole thing. It was their mistake. Perhaps the difference should just come out of the people who were cutting the checks salaries...

People make mistakes, but with something like that, you''d think that at least one department thats involved would notice!
 

TravelingGal

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Date: 2/23/2009 4:05:24 PM
Author: FrekeChild
It just depends TGal. I tend to agree with Clairitek.

I think a lot of it has to do with how everything was handled. Was the employee an upstanding employee? Was that employee mistreated in any way?

Really I think MS should just own up to the mistake, and perhaps ask for half of it back instead of the whole thing. It was their mistake. Perhaps the difference should just come out of the people who were cutting the checks salaries...

People make mistakes, but with something like that, you''d think that at least one department thats involved would notice!

If it were one person, perhaps they go give the person a break if it s/he were an upstanding employee. But in this case, it''s possibly up to 1400 employees. So what do they do? Say, "Oh, you were a nice one, enjoy! You, not so much, so give us the money back." It was a layoff, so you have to assume that none of the 1400 employees were at fault.


It would be nice of MS owned up to the mistake, I agree and just let these people move on. But they haven''t and obviously want this money back...maybe to help get their budgets healthy again and prevent more layoffs? Hm.

 

Sabine

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This sort of happened to my husband. One month he got an unexpected payment from the Navy. He tried to call someone to figure out what the payment was for, but the Navy is a bit difficult to contact, so he never got an answer. We had heard of this happening by mistake before though, so we put the money aside. About 6 months later, the Navy sent out a letter saying it was a mistake and needed to be paid back, but they at least offered for us to pay it back in installments that were easily manageable. The good part was, we got to keep earning interest on the money as we paid it back since we had never spent it.

I would pay it back, but hope that they would offer a generous repayment plan and a very public apology!
 

Steel

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Date: 2/23/2009 3:37:28 PM
Author: TravelingGal

Date: 2/23/2009 3:32:18 PM
Author: FrekeChild
I''d check with my lawyer. But I would initially say no. And I don''t think MS should go back after them either.

If I were a nice person I would give it back, but at the same time, they are the ones that laid me off, and they made the mistake. Why should I pay them back when they screwed me over? Bottom line - I agree with you Freke.
But did they screw you over? (Playing Devil''s Advocate)

These are tough times...Microsoft is trying to stay profitable and in business to keep offering us products we all use. It wasn''t personal, it was a business decision to remain afloat. Shouldn''t you pay them back because it''s not your money?

Would it be theft to keep money that isn''t yours? Or is it not theft because they mistakenly gave it to you in the first place? I mean, if someone gave you a box of your posssesions and a ring was in it that they didn''t mean to give you, would you keep it even after they asked for it back saying they misplaced the ring? Would you say, sorry, YOU made the mistake and now I am keeping your engagement ring? Wouldn''t it at that point be theft??

Don''t get me wrong...I''m just playing devil''s advocate here, because if I were in those employees shoes, I could see myself feeling EXACTLY the way you put it above.

Also playing Devils Advocate. Yes IMHO they did screw the employee(s) over. Bottom line most people do not go to work for moral development or to boost their countries GNP. They work to feed their children and pay for health insurance, to keep a roof over their heads and get though life one pay check at a time. So if you have lost your job and are facing into the abyss of unemployment and your colleague is not. Then yes you got screwed over; it is personal. Speaking laterally; is it not your money? Had they not have taken the personal decision to make you redundant then that money could very well ahve been your next pay check. I know this is far fetched but what the hay; us devil''s advocates can sit here and chew the fat while others calculate how to fraction out their redundancy until unemployment kicks in.

As regards theft of the money. I suppose it is theft; but without the whole mens rea technicality, unless theft there is strict liability and up until you are aware of the mistake. What if you have already spent the excess or allocated the excess for future expense already contracted.

In your example the box was given/returned so it is not quite the same as contracted agreement.

I also like to take my ''pen for a walk'' while musing on these issues. Right or Wrong? Who knows. Unless this gets to Court we cannot presume to pronounce. All the same, as long as it is not us who is relying on this money what is the harm?

ETA: I wonder if the employment T&C''s were silent on the issue of overpayment?
 

Sundial

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I''m not saying that I don''t feel for the laid off workers, I do, but what is right is right. If someone makes an honest mistake in overpaying you for whatever, you have a moral responsibility to return the money. Hopefully Microsoft will work with these people on the repayment and not pursue legal action. There are already too many things settled by lawsuit in this country.
 

TravelingGal

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Date: 2/23/2009 4:11:15 PM
Author: Steel

Date: 2/23/2009 3:37:28 PM
Author: TravelingGal


Date: 2/23/2009 3:32:18 PM
Author: FrekeChild
I''d check with my lawyer. But I would initially say no. And I don''t think MS should go back after them either.

If I were a nice person I would give it back, but at the same time, they are the ones that laid me off, and they made the mistake. Why should I pay them back when they screwed me over? Bottom line - I agree with you Freke.
But did they screw you over? (Playing Devil''s Advocate)

These are tough times...Microsoft is trying to stay profitable and in business to keep offering us products we all use. It wasn''t personal, it was a business decision to remain afloat. Shouldn''t you pay them back because it''s not your money?

Would it be theft to keep money that isn''t yours? Or is it not theft because they mistakenly gave it to you in the first place? I mean, if someone gave you a box of your posssesions and a ring was in it that they didn''t mean to give you, would you keep it even after they asked for it back saying they misplaced the ring? Would you say, sorry, YOU made the mistake and now I am keeping your engagement ring? Wouldn''t it at that point be theft??

Don''t get me wrong...I''m just playing devil''s advocate here, because if I were in those employees shoes, I could see myself feeling EXACTLY the way you put it above.


Also playing Devils Advocate. Yes IMHO they did screw the employee(s) over. Bottom line most people do not go to work for moral development or to boost their countries GNP. They work to feed their children and pay for health insurance, to keep a roof over their heads and get though life one pay check at a time. So if you have lost your job and are facing into the abyss of unemployment and your colleague is not. Then yes you got screwed over; it is personal. Speaking laterally; is it not your money? Had they not have taken the personal decision to make you redundant then that money could very well ahve been your next pay check. I know this is far fetched but what the hay; us devil''s advocates can sit here and chew the fat while others calculate how to fraction out their redundancy until unemployment kicks in.

As regards theft of the money. I suppose it is theft; but without the whole mens rea technicality, unless theft there is strict liability and up until you are aware of the mistake. What if you have already spent the excess or allocated the excess for future expense already contracted.

In your example the box was given/returned so it is not quite the same as contracted agreement.

I also like to take my ''pen for a walk'' while musing on these issues. Right or Wrong? Who knows. Unless this gets to Court we cannot presume to pronounce. All the same, as long as it is not us who is relying on this money what is the harm?

ETA: I wonder if the employment T&C''s were silent on the issue of overpayment?
LOL Steel. OK, I''ll continue this discussion play DA for MS....

I''ll only speak for California, but from my understanding, it is an at-will state, meaning you or your employer can terminate at will. This is in the contract I signed when I accepted the job, so I went in FULL WELL knowing that I could be laid off at any time. Hence I wouldn''t see it as my employer screwing me over if they laid me off due to tough times.

That doesn''t mean I wouldn''t think my employer made some stupid mistakes that got us there. Two jobs ago, I worked in a company where every employee got to sit in Herman Miller chairs. The company was VERY into image. But those chairs aren''t cheap. Soonafter, we had massive layoffs and those chairs sat in a huge storage cage in the basement. Tons of them. We survivors joked that those Herman Miller chairs got people laid off. Stupid decisions made by the company.

Anyway, to the second point, companies pay you for work. So if they lay me off, then I don''t see them robbing me of "my" money because I haven''t put in the hours to earn it.
 

Steel

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Date: 2/23/2009 4:37:08 PM
Author: TravelingGal

Date: 2/23/2009 4:11:15 PM
Author: Steel


Date: 2/23/2009 3:37:28 PM
Author: TravelingGal



Date: 2/23/2009 3:32:18 PM
Author: FrekeChild
I''d check with my lawyer. But I would initially say no. And I don''t think MS should go back after them either.

If I were a nice person I would give it back, but at the same time, they are the ones that laid me off, and they made the mistake. Why should I pay them back when they screwed me over? Bottom line - I agree with you Freke.
But did they screw you over? (Playing Devil''s Advocate)

These are tough times...Microsoft is trying to stay profitable and in business to keep offering us products we all use. It wasn''t personal, it was a business decision to remain afloat. Shouldn''t you pay them back because it''s not your money?

Would it be theft to keep money that isn''t yours? Or is it not theft because they mistakenly gave it to you in the first place? I mean, if someone gave you a box of your posssesions and a ring was in it that they didn''t mean to give you, would you keep it even after they asked for it back saying they misplaced the ring? Would you say, sorry, YOU made the mistake and now I am keeping your engagement ring? Wouldn''t it at that point be theft??

Don''t get me wrong...I''m just playing devil''s advocate here, because if I were in those employees shoes, I could see myself feeling EXACTLY the way you put it above.



Also playing Devils Advocate. Yes IMHO they did screw the employee(s) over. Bottom line most people do not go to work for moral development or to boost their countries GNP. They work to feed their children and pay for health insurance, to keep a roof over their heads and get though life one pay check at a time. So if you have lost your job and are facing into the abyss of unemployment and your colleague is not. Then yes you got screwed over; it is personal. Speaking laterally; is it not your money? Had they not have taken the personal decision to make you redundant then that money could very well ahve been your next pay check. I know this is far fetched but what the hay; us devil''s advocates can sit here and chew the fat while others calculate how to fraction out their redundancy until unemployment kicks in.

As regards theft of the money. I suppose it is theft; but without the whole mens rea technicality, unless theft there is strict liability and up until you are aware of the mistake. What if you have already spent the excess or allocated the excess for future expense already contracted.

In your example the box was given/returned so it is not quite the same as contracted agreement.

I also like to take my ''pen for a walk'' while musing on these issues. Right or Wrong? Who knows. Unless this gets to Court we cannot presume to pronounce. All the same, as long as it is not us who is relying on this money what is the harm?

ETA: I wonder if the employment T&C''s were silent on the issue of overpayment?
LOL Steel. OK, I''ll continue this discussion play DA for MS....

I''ll only speak for California, but from my understanding, it is an at-will state, meaning you or your employer can terminate at will. This is in the contract I signed when I accepted the job, so I went in FULL WELL knowing that I could be laid off at any time. Hence I wouldn''t see it as my employer screwing me over if they laid me off due to tough times.

That doesn''t mean I wouldn''t think my employer made some stupid mistakes that got us there. Two jobs ago, I worked in a company where every employee got to sit in Herman Miller chairs. The company was VERY into image. But those chairs aren''t cheap. Soonafter, we had massive layoffs and those chairs sat in a huge storage cage in the basement. Tons of them. We survivors joked that those Herman Miller chairs got people laid off. Stupid decisions made by the company.

Anyway, to the second point, companies pay you for work. So if they lay me off, then I don''t see them robbing me of ''my'' money because I haven''t put in the hours to earn it.
So how does that advance your case that the $ should be returned?
 

FrekeChild

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Date: 2/23/2009 4:10:28 PM
Author: TravelingGal

It would be nice of MS owned up to the mistake, I agree and just let these people move on. But they haven''t and obviously want this money back...maybe to help get their budgets healthy again and prevent more layoffs? Hm.

But aren''t they already planning for more layoffs?
 

TravelingGal

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Date: 2/23/2009 4:49:31 PM
Author: Steel

Date: 2/23/2009 4:37:08 PM
Author: TravelingGal


Date: 2/23/2009 4:11:15 PM
Author: Steel



Date: 2/23/2009 3:37:28 PM
Author: TravelingGal




Date: 2/23/2009 3:32:18 PM
Author: FrekeChild
I''d check with my lawyer. But I would initially say no. And I don''t think MS should go back after them either.

If I were a nice person I would give it back, but at the same time, they are the ones that laid me off, and they made the mistake. Why should I pay them back when they screwed me over? Bottom line - I agree with you Freke.
But did they screw you over? (Playing Devil''s Advocate)

These are tough times...Microsoft is trying to stay profitable and in business to keep offering us products we all use. It wasn''t personal, it was a business decision to remain afloat. Shouldn''t you pay them back because it''s not your money?

Would it be theft to keep money that isn''t yours? Or is it not theft because they mistakenly gave it to you in the first place? I mean, if someone gave you a box of your posssesions and a ring was in it that they didn''t mean to give you, would you keep it even after they asked for it back saying they misplaced the ring? Would you say, sorry, YOU made the mistake and now I am keeping your engagement ring? Wouldn''t it at that point be theft??

Don''t get me wrong...I''m just playing devil''s advocate here, because if I were in those employees shoes, I could see myself feeling EXACTLY the way you put it above.




Also playing Devils Advocate. Yes IMHO they did screw the employee(s) over. Bottom line most people do not go to work for moral development or to boost their countries GNP. They work to feed their children and pay for health insurance, to keep a roof over their heads and get though life one pay check at a time. So if you have lost your job and are facing into the abyss of unemployment and your colleague is not. Then yes you got screwed over; it is personal. Speaking laterally; is it not your money? Had they not have taken the personal decision to make you redundant then that money could very well ahve been your next pay check. I know this is far fetched but what the hay; us devil''s advocates can sit here and chew the fat while others calculate how to fraction out their redundancy until unemployment kicks in.

As regards theft of the money. I suppose it is theft; but without the whole mens rea technicality, unless theft there is strict liability and up until you are aware of the mistake. What if you have already spent the excess or allocated the excess for future expense already contracted.

In your example the box was given/returned so it is not quite the same as contracted agreement.

I also like to take my ''pen for a walk'' while musing on these issues. Right or Wrong? Who knows. Unless this gets to Court we cannot presume to pronounce. All the same, as long as it is not us who is relying on this money what is the harm?

ETA: I wonder if the employment T&C''s were silent on the issue of overpayment?
LOL Steel. OK, I''ll continue this discussion play DA for MS....

I''ll only speak for California, but from my understanding, it is an at-will state, meaning you or your employer can terminate at will. This is in the contract I signed when I accepted the job, so I went in FULL WELL knowing that I could be laid off at any time. Hence I wouldn''t see it as my employer screwing me over if they laid me off due to tough times.

That doesn''t mean I wouldn''t think my employer made some stupid mistakes that got us there. Two jobs ago, I worked in a company where every employee got to sit in Herman Miller chairs. The company was VERY into image. But those chairs aren''t cheap. Soonafter, we had massive layoffs and those chairs sat in a huge storage cage in the basement. Tons of them. We survivors joked that those Herman Miller chairs got people laid off. Stupid decisions made by the company.

Anyway, to the second point, companies pay you for work. So if they lay me off, then I don''t see them robbing me of ''my'' money because I haven''t put in the hours to earn it.
So how does that advance your case that the $ should be returned?
Because they company did not screw me over, made a mistake, and the money is not mine!
 

TravelingGal

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Date: 2/23/2009 4:53:51 PM
Author: FrekeChild

Date: 2/23/2009 4:10:28 PM
Author: TravelingGal

It would be nice of MS owned up to the mistake, I agree and just let these people move on. But they haven''t and obviously want this money back...maybe to help get their budgets healthy again and prevent more layoffs? Hm.

But aren''t they already planning for more layoffs?
Yes, I imagine accounting might be going soon...
 

violet02

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Date: 2/23/2009 4:37:08 PM
Author: TravelingGal

Date: 2/23/2009 4:11:15 PM
Author: Steel


Date: 2/23/2009 3:37:28 PM
Author: TravelingGal



Date: 2/23/2009 3:32:18 PM
Author: FrekeChild
I''d check with my lawyer. But I would initially say no. And I don''t think MS should go back after them either.

If I were a nice person I would give it back, but at the same time, they are the ones that laid me off, and they made the mistake. Why should I pay them back when they screwed me over? Bottom line - I agree with you Freke.
But did they screw you over? (Playing Devil''s Advocate)

These are tough times...Microsoft is trying to stay profitable and in business to keep offering us products we all use. It wasn''t personal, it was a business decision to remain afloat. Shouldn''t you pay them back because it''s not your money?

Would it be theft to keep money that isn''t yours? Or is it not theft because they mistakenly gave it to you in the first place? I mean, if someone gave you a box of your posssesions and a ring was in it that they didn''t mean to give you, would you keep it even after they asked for it back saying they misplaced the ring? Would you say, sorry, YOU made the mistake and now I am keeping your engagement ring? Wouldn''t it at that point be theft??

Don''t get me wrong...I''m just playing devil''s advocate here, because if I were in those employees shoes, I could see myself feeling EXACTLY the way you put it above.



Also playing Devils Advocate. Yes IMHO they did screw the employee(s) over. Bottom line most people do not go to work for moral development or to boost their countries GNP. They work to feed their children and pay for health insurance, to keep a roof over their heads and get though life one pay check at a time. So if you have lost your job and are facing into the abyss of unemployment and your colleague is not. Then yes you got screwed over; it is personal. Speaking laterally; is it not your money? Had they not have taken the personal decision to make you redundant then that money could very well ahve been your next pay check. I know this is far fetched but what the hay; us devil''s advocates can sit here and chew the fat while others calculate how to fraction out their redundancy until unemployment kicks in.

As regards theft of the money. I suppose it is theft; but without the whole mens rea technicality, unless theft there is strict liability and up until you are aware of the mistake. What if you have already spent the excess or allocated the excess for future expense already contracted.

In your example the box was given/returned so it is not quite the same as contracted agreement.

I also like to take my ''pen for a walk'' while musing on these issues. Right or Wrong? Who knows. Unless this gets to Court we cannot presume to pronounce. All the same, as long as it is not us who is relying on this money what is the harm?

ETA: I wonder if the employment T&C''s were silent on the issue of overpayment?
LOL Steel. OK, I''ll continue this discussion play DA for MS....

I''ll only speak for California, but from my understanding, it is an at-will state, meaning you or your employer can terminate at will. This is in the contract I signed when I accepted the job, so I went in FULL WELL knowing that I could be laid off at any time. Hence I wouldn''t see it as my employer screwing me over if they laid me off due to tough times.

That doesn''t mean I wouldn''t think my employer made some stupid mistakes that got us there. Two jobs ago, I worked in a company where every employee got to sit in Herman Miller chairs. The company was VERY into image. But those chairs aren''t cheap. Soonafter, we had massive layoffs and those chairs sat in a huge storage cage in the basement. Tons of them. We survivors joked that those Herman Miller chairs got people laid off. Stupid decisions made by the company.

Anyway, to the second point, companies pay you for work. So if they lay me off, then I don''t see them robbing me of ''my'' money because I haven''t put in the hours to earn it.
I work at MS. And yes we are at will employees. Yes I have been laid off from here before or told I was going to be laid off and had six weeks to find a job, no I wasn''t offered any large severances (at the time which was hard) and yes I did get a job here so I didn''t get laid off officially (just to give some background about me and layoffs here).

Do I think it sucks they made this error? Heck yeah. Should people pay back the money? Ethically, yes. One payroll period for whatever reason we got paid twice. So I know payroll has been known to screw up. Did everyone run out and spend the money and not pay it back? I don''t know but everyone I know personally did not do that including myself. Why? Because it''s not our money.

And let me clarify what some people have said above. These people were laid off not fired. Fired means no fat severance packages and some folks that were laid off got some really nice severance. Here''s how the numbers worked:

If you were not a high leveled executive. So your every day individual contributer, lead, manager etc under a certain level you got the following:

8 weeks severance (standard that all laid off folks got)
1 week for every 6 months of service to the company (higher levels get 2 weeks).

So had I been laid off not including any vacation time paid out to me I''d have gotten a minimum of 24 weeks of severance. I don''t know anyone else that''s gotten that generous of a severance package when their companies have laid them off. Sure it sucks to lose your job, I have been laid off 3x in the past but in this economy a lot of companies are making these business decisions to cut costs. I don''t want to lose my job, not matter how much severance that i have and sure it would suck to get a letter saying I was overpaid but I think I might have realized something was off. I don'' t know the exact amount that they were overpaid but if was as much as I''ve seen them mess up in the past I''d have known (2 paychecks in one pay period, yes I noticed! heh).

And yes I think MS would go after them. They''re pretty ''by the book'' here. And I agree with T-gal in regareds to ''how'' to pay it back. If it''s been spent already and it''s been long enough for that to happen they are going to HAVE to work with people on that. And they do owe those underpaid people and I know they''ll pay them. As much as this companies has it''s ups and downs they have never been one to stiff us on benefits and money. We get better benefits and higher pay than a lot of tech companies. I know for a fact we get the best benefits, period.

That reminds me, my friend was laid off and I am going to call him shortly to find out if he got the letter and if he was overpaid, then I''ll know for sure how bad it was.

Let me add the following:
http://www.pcworld.com/article/160015/microsoft_asks_laidoff_workers_to_return_overpaid_severance.htmlhttp://www.facebook.com/ext/share.php?sid=52726304220&h=4sraG&u=0_vsX

There''s a copy of the letter there with an Apology, and statement about paying it back within the year.. and I''m sure there are allowances for having to go longer to repay it. Take a look.
 

violet02

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Sep 5, 2007
Messages
2,201
Date: 2/23/2009 5:00:49 PM
Author: TravelingGal

Date: 2/23/2009 4:53:51 PM
Author: FrekeChild


Date: 2/23/2009 4:10:28 PM
Author: TravelingGal


It would be nice of MS owned up to the mistake, I agree and just let these people move on. But they haven''t and obviously want this money back...maybe to help get their budgets healthy again and prevent more layoffs? Hm.

But aren''t they already planning for more layoffs?
Yes, I imagine accounting might be going soon...
Haha!

Seriously though yes, 3600 more are coming. This will be dependant on how well your business group is doing. And I think they believe some of those numbers will come through attrition after the annual review this year etc.
 

violet02

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Sep 5, 2007
Messages
2,201
I just talked to my friend, he didn''t get letter... yet. He said they didn''t say how they did the calculations on the check he got but he did the math and said he came out to within give or take $200.00 so he knew if it was way off or not. So I''m still not sure how ''off'' these overpayments were.
 

Steel

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 8, 2006
Messages
4,884
Date: 2/23/2009 5:05:30 PM
Author: violet02
I just talked to my friend, he didn''t get letter... yet. He said they didn''t say how they did the calculations on the check he got but he did the math and said he came out to within give or take $200.00 so he knew if it was way off or not. So I''m still not sure how ''off'' these overpayments were.
Great posts Violet.

I feel that it is too easy to pontificate on bread and butter issues, with real people at the heart. Thanks for posting.
 

crown1

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Nov 22, 2006
Messages
1,682
Date: 2/23/2009 4:26:41 PM
Author: Sundial
I''m not saying that I don''t feel for the laid off workers, I do, but what is right is right. If someone makes an honest mistake in overpaying you for whatever, you have a moral responsibility to return the money. Hopefully Microsoft will work with these people on the repayment and not pursue legal action. There are already too many things settled by lawsuit in this country.
word! i am with you right is right. plenty of people site karma on here, i think this might be a place where that would apply if you believe in those types of things. ethically i think one must pay back the money if overpaid in error, just as microsoft must pay those who were underpaid in error.
 

Mara

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Oct 30, 2002
Messages
31,003
aww. cut poor MS some slack...this was their first layoff ever... obviously accounting was a little confused, too much, too little... ay carumba!

personally i think this: it's at will employment. i work for you. you lay me off. you give me money. i take money. you make mistake on money? too bad.

would i just offer the money back? heck no! i would be unemployed and they got rid of me. i would have no loyalty to them just like they had no loyalty to me. if they asked for it back, yes i'd give it, but with potential months of tough times stretching ahead would i be rushing to say 'take back this $4k'....nope. fwiw also i have been laid off a few times, living in silicon valley of course it has pretty much happened to all of us at some point, and it is a business decision, just like it'd be a business decision for me to KEEP the extra money unless they requested otherwise.

good for MS that they decided it was not the best PR to ask for it back. let those employees keep the extra, they will probably need it.
 

Hudson_Hawk

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 2, 2006
Messages
10,541
Most people have to sign a severance agreement when they accept the money. In my opinion that equals a contract and the company can''t come back and try and take it back. I don''t care if they made a mistake. I don''t consider it an ethical thing and I would fight tooth and nail for that money if I had been in the position of the employees.
 
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