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    Former Tops Workers to Keep Overpayments

    WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. -- Tops Markets here, which last December closed its 46 stores in northeast Ohio, will permit former employees in the region to keep financial benefits they were given in error.

    WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. -- Tops Markets here, which last December closed its 46 stores in northeast Ohio, will permit former employees in the region to keep financial benefits they were given in error.

    Tops initially mailed letters three weeks ago to approximately 650 ex-workers, requesting them to return almost $400,000 in overpayments, which were included in severance and vacation checks, but after consulting with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 880, the company reversed its decision, e.v.p. and g.m. Max Henderson said last week. Henderson also apologized for any difficulties the request for repayment may have caused for former employees.

    Tops officials were unavailable for further comment at press time.

    "Both Tops and Local 880...understand that while their employees and members have no legal claim or entitlement to money that was paid in error, they also believe that under the circumstances it is unfair to require many of the employees who received such payments to repay this money," noted Local 880 president Tom Robertson in a statement. "There are many hardship cases; in many cases the money has already been spent."

    Robertson noted Tops "did the right thing" in letting the former workers keep the additional money.

    The grocer inadvertently overpaid the employees while calculating benefits with a formula devised with the union, which told Tops about the errors, temporarily halting checks to the remaining 1,100 employees until last week so payment amounts could be corrected.

    Tops began mailing the severance and vacation checks to former employees about two weeks after its northeast Ohio stores closed.

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