Employee Wage Dispute Claims in Pennsylvania
Did you know that more than three-quarters of all hourly wage workers are not paid legally required overtime? If you have worked more than 40 hours in a one-week period, and are covered by Pennsylvania minimum wage law, and have not been paid the legally required time-and-a-half according to Pennsylvania law, you may be entitled to recover the unpaid overtime. In fact, any of the following situations may result in the legal ability to extract unpaid wages:
- Failure to pay via cash, check, or direct deposit
- Failure to pay final wages
- Failure to provide proper legal notice for reduction of hourly pay
- Failure to provide legal fringe benefits, such as holiday pay, sick leave, bonus pay, parental leave, paid time off, legally required meal breaks in applicable working relationships, etc.
- Failure to pay on agreed-upon pay dates
- Improper Classification
One of the ways that employers may attempt to steal wages is by incorrectly classifying workers as an independent contractor, a seasonal worker, or a temporary contractor. The United States Department of Labor suggests that misclassification is one of the most serious problems that workers in the entire country face today, including Pennsylvania. This issue means that workers don’t, at first glance, have the proper paper trail necessary to dispute wage discrepancies, and can make it harder for them to receive the proper fringe benefits.
According to Pennsylvania law, the working relationship between the employer and the employee will dictate the type of employment. This means that if a worker can prove that they are not seasonal or temporary, or can show a job contract that does not specify their role as an independent contractor, they may be entitled to dispute wage complaints, despite the employer’s classification of their position.
Unacceptable Wage Claims
Before you reach out to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Labor Law Compliance to being the wage claim process, you may wish to understand what is not an acceptable wage claim. The Bureau does not accept wage claims for the following situations:
Failure to pay overtime to:
- Taxi drivers
- Movie theater employees
- Television or radio station employees
- Motor carrier employees
- Employees that are employed in the process of refining maple sap
Failure to pay minimum wage to:
- Employees working in private homes
- Newspaper delivery employees
- Executive or administrative education employees
- Elementary or secondary school teachers
- Seasonal employees under the age of 24 if employed in agencies that assist with or provide day camp for children for less than three months per year
- Amusement park or recreational establishment employees that work np more than seven months per year
- Switchboard operators
- Golf caddies
- Elected officials and their employees
3. Failure to provide meal breaks to any employee over the age of 18.
In these or other specific cases, the Bureau of Labor Law Compliance in Pennsylvania will not investigate.
Important Facts to Know
When you file a wage claim in Pennsylvania, there are a few specific numbers or facts to be aware of, including:
Pennsylvania only requires meal breaks be offered to employees under the age of 18 who work a consecutive five-hour shift. These breaks must be 30 minutes for every five consecutive hours.
As of January 1, 2016, minimum wage in Pennsylvania is $7.25 per hour.
Tipped employees must be paid no less than 60% of minimum wage, and their pay must make up minimum wage in addition to their tips. This means that if a tipped employee’s tips only total 5% of minimum wage, their pay must be 95% of the minimum wage; and regardless of their tips earned, their pay must be no less than 60% of minimum wage.
If an employer does not comply with an order from the Bureau of Labor Law Compliance to return unpaid wages to an employee, that employer may also be ordered to pay an additional 25% of the value of wages in fees.
All claims for unpaid wages must be filed within three years of the violation.