PORTAGE, Mich. — Pfizer employees say they're frustrated and angry over a payroll mistake that could force them to give back money some have already spent.
"I think everybody is just really disheartened with how all of this was handled. To ask for this money back, is just I think morally wrong,” said one employee who requested anonymity, over fear of retribution from Pfizer.
One employee provided News Channel 3 with a letter and documents received last week that showed Pfizer telling the employee they owed more than $800 in overpayment. Another employee said the issue is affecting hourly workers all across the company.
Pfizer said the overpayments happened following a ransomware attack on Ultimate Kronos Group in December 2021. Pfizer uses Kronos to track the hours employees work and pay them.
“We all feel that this is Pfizer’s payroll mistake. We never asked for this money, we were never consulted on whether we wanted extra money,” the anonymous Pfizer worker told News Channel 3.
The employee said they had no idea they were being overpaid and the money Pfizer is asking for has already been spent.
“We feel very much taken advantage of. We feel the stockholders are the only ones benefiting and we were kind of just gone to the wayside,” the employee said.
According to Pfizer's letter, affected workers can choose to repay the money over one, three, or six months. The letter went on to say the company will not take money from future paychecks without notice.
Pfizer also said it would pay $250 towards each worker's overpayment balance.
Pfizer, which produced one of the three COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S., reported more than $80 billion in revenues for 2021 and 92% operational growth. It was also the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“They did have record years, so why are you coming back to your frontline workers and saying sorry, we want our money back,” they said.
A Pfizer spokesperson said in a statement, "Pfizer has and continues to take a fair and equitable approach to the unforeseen situation created by the Kronos ransomware attack. Our priority always has been to ensure colleagues receive their weekly pay in a timely fashion. We are grateful for their continued contributions in the development and manufacturing of our medicines and vaccines at our Kalamazoo facility.”