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April 12, 2005
Bank of America Wants Part of Severance Pay Back

Bank of America is asking 70 laid-off employees to repay part of their severance pay after the company said an audit revealed it overpaid them, the Boston Globe reports.

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The 70 individuals were laid off during Bank of America's merger with FleetBoston Financial Corp.

The company tells the newspaper it agreed to pay the laid-off workers for a certain number of weeks based on length of service, but it mistakenly paid the workers for more weeks. The company has sent letters to the workers, asking them to repay the amount it says it overpaid them.

"When an error of this nature occurs, either overpayment or underpayment, we take steps to correct it," says Alex Liftman, a spokesperson for Bank of America. ''We regret the inconvenience."

One HR specialist calls the request for repayment of severance paid somewhat unusual.

''My experience is that if there was an administrative error, the error was absorbed by the organization," says Kathy Rice, a human resources management consultant. ''It wasn't the employee's fault, and the employee was in the process of losing their job."

A spokesperson for Fidelity Investments, which performs HR work for Bank of America, says it considers it normal business practice to collect overpaid severance, the newspaper reports

A laid-off worker says she received a letter asking for more than $9,000.

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