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Microsoft Demands Money Back From Laid-Off Employees

2/24/09, 9:29 A.M.: UPDATED WITH MICROSOFT RECANT:

Microsoft has sent a letter to some of the 1,400 workers laid off last month telling them they were mistakenly paid too much severance.

And they have 14 days to give back the overpayment.

UPDATE: Late Monday night, Microsoft sent out the following statement, saying the overpaid employees will not have to give back the money, which proves the power of negative publicity:

"Last week, 25 former Microsoft employees were informed that they were overpaid as a part of their severance payments from the company. This was a mistake on our part. We should have handled this situation in a more thoughtful manner. We are reaching out to those impacted to relay that we will not seek any payment from those individuals."

You can see a copy of the letter from Microsoft here, where it was reported on TechCrunch.

Further: employees must call Microsoft to get the details of how they mistake was made.

Note: In its second-quarter earnings, reported last month, Microsoft said it has $8.4 billion in cash on-hand.

-- Frank Ahrens
The Ticker is Twittering!

By Frank Ahrens  |  February 23, 2009; 3:15 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Microsoft, severance  
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Comments

This happened to me after I changed jobs. I received a letter in the mail saying I had been overpaid in my last paycheck due to a calculation error and that I owed them X dollars. This was 2 months after I had left the company. I was tempted to respond but I decided that my best option was to ignore it. I figured they wouldn't bother to sue me over a few hundred $s.

Posted by: dannofels | February 23, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Wonder which M$ program they used to screw this up?

Posted by: jimbo1949 | February 23, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Anyone know how many of these 1,400 were H1-B visa workers? Has MS decided to for-go hiring additional visa workers? Any bets on the visa "lottery" being filled on the very first day (again!)?

The US will continue to tumble into financial chaos as long as we continue to import cheap labor and FIRE long serving, high paid, "high tech" workers. Eventually, there will be no one left to buy the expensive MS products. Time to switch to free OS and productivity software.

Posted by: Sadler | February 23, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

My position as a former Microsoft employee would be, tough titty. You made the mistake, you can suck it up.

Posted by: nicekid | February 23, 2009 6:23 PM | Report abuse

um just as an aside if MS thinks they have a case and you just got a severance check from them you *might* want to just rethink this whole "they can suck it up" thing.

Posted by: dubya19391 | February 23, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

You guys are SLOW!

The decision has already been reversed.

Posted by: Dawny_Chambers | February 23, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Microsoft has been suffering from a...chronic lack of common sense lately.

If they are going to layoff, let it at least address this problem.

Posted by: bushieisa | February 23, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

"The US will continue to tumble into financial chaos as long as..."


The tumble has hardly even begun...comrade.

While the USA was out seeking “those who would harm us”, it turns out 'those' turned out to be among us...doing more damage to America and to the West than any ‘terrorist’ could ever hope to accomplish.

So we have ‘suspected terrorists’ in Gitmo, and those who significantly damaged America running free or under house arrest in a million dollar penthouse in Manhattan.

Its enough to make even Bin Laden blush with envy.

The good news is that even 30 days from now will make today look like boom times.

So smile...today!..because today is really, really great.

Posted by: bushieisa | February 23, 2009 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Lest anyone forget, Microsoft's halcyon days ended 15 years and and they have not had a noteworthy success since Office 2003. I don't know anyone who likes Vista, and I contracted there working on Windows 7, and it is total garbage. Ballmer is a loudmouthed moron too instinctively competitive to manage anything more demanding than a trip to the toilet, and everything that was great at Microsoft is long gone. They no longer know how to inspire people to do great work and are preoccupied with process, procedure, standards and uniformity. Got their stock? Sell it. I sold mine at $28.

I worked there half the last 20 years, looking forward to interviewing there again so I can tell off the next 'hole who tells me to go write code on a whiteboard. I'm taking my retirement accounts and moving to Vietnam, where I am at the moment, typing on a Thinkpad running Linux.

Windows 2000 was their technical peak; it hasn't been a great place to work for almost a whole generation.

Funny as hell they would expect anyone to send back a severance. Screw you, Ballmer!

Posted by: chrisfox8 | February 23, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

They announced today that they called the workers after this story broke and told them they would not seek repayment. Aprox 25 employees were overpaid anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $5k... If they are not seeking repayment from those now unemployed then the whole severance program should be recalcualted so all the laid off workers receive compensation equal to the overpayments made.

Posted by: raco099 | February 23, 2009 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Microsoft has a well established policy of mistreating ex-employees, especially when they are down and out. As a victim of this abuse and witness to cases of others suffering from the crass and uncaring attitude towards the disabled and aging worker, Microsoft should pay up more than a few dollars extra severance. Shamefully, many years of greed will make the downfall of this leviathan quite painful for many other workers before the toll is paid. Bill Gates donates some of his wealth to various world causes and that is a good thing for those that can benefit. Unfortunately, he still runs a company that is a discredit to the people that have worked just as hard for his success. Benefits and fair pay for the deserving would be the benevolent act from a man that has earned billions from the toil of others.

Posted by: sebrdu | February 23, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Sandler is spot-on. MS won't say how many H1-Bs were laid off because everyone knows the number is zero. The layoffs were those that would give the biggest bang for the shareholder value buck (spits); the ones who worked their way up to high salaries through years of hard work, putting in 70 hours for 40 hours of pay, coming to work when sick, working through xhaustion.

Gates went before Congress and whined through his lying throat, denigrating American education for its failure to generate enough qualified engineers. Subtext: willing to work for low wages and compliant enough to take orders from control freak managers who think consistency is the root of all virtue.

While other foreign imports are scattered unevenl throughout the company, there is not a single development group that is not at least one third Indian, obvious as the boils on Ballmer's neck that these are the future nuclei of groups in India, where all development work will be moved. Who cares if their work is crap? Marketing will fill in the gaps, what few gaps are left by the average user's fear of the unknown.

But with Vista that shoddiness went a step too far and with the "Mojave Experiment" the marketing got a step too insulting to the intelligence. I'm not a gregarious person but I know a dozen people who have switched to Macs and with the turd-coil to come that is Windows 7 you can expect that number to surge. And there's Linux out there just waiting to be discovered, better than XP and without the silly eye-candy of the Aero shell.

Ballmer will tell OEMs to ship 7 "or else," and they will, but nobody will pay to upgrade and many will decide that paying twice to stick with XP is one injury too many.

Working in a development team at MS has an unmistakable feel of Going Through the Motions, checking boxes because they don't know how to manage projects. All they know is intimidation and control, a system that after all worked so well for the Kremlin.

Ash heap of history.

Just install Fedora and be done with it.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | February 24, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

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