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Pennsylvania's employment rate rose steadily in 2016 with new jobs in education and health services, construction and professional/business services in 2016.
However, unemployment remains a problem in the Keystone State. As the state's economy struggles with a slight population decline and a slow sales tax growth, employers are tightening budgets. This has opened the door for employment law violations such as wage theft in Pennsylvania.
Employment law covers a multitude of topics, including worker's compensation, workplace discrimination, vacation and overtime, unemployment benefits and more. Your employment dispute is often affected by federal, state and local laws simultaneously. Pennsylvania employment law attorneys are experienced with the delicacy and complexity of work-related cases and can help protect your rights.
Wage theft is a problem in Pennsylvania due to a lack of state legislation and infrastructure to address the issue. Wage theft happens when an employer doesn't pay a worker due compensation, usually resulting in light paychecks.
Employers can give any number of excuses for the practice and tend to retaliate against workers who speak up about it. This is especially a challenge for low-wage and part-time workers who are more vulnerable to wage theft and employer retaliation.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) defines wage and hour law in the U.S. and guarantees a worker's right to due compensation. Despite this, Pennsylvania employers still illegally practice wage theft causing workers to lose between $19 million and $32 million in wages total—or about 15 percent of their paycheck—in one week.
Philadelphia enforced a new Wage Theft Ordinance on July 2016 to provide workers with a means to report wage and hour violations to a city coordinator. The new law can force employers to repay stolen wages, enforce stiff employer penalties and protect workers from retaliation.
Pennsylvania's minimum wage as of January 2017 is $7.25/hour, which reflects the federal minimum wage. In March 2016, Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order to increase the state government minimum wage to $10.15/hour, effective July 1, 2016. The Governor expressed his support to raise the state minimum wage to $10.15 for all other non-government workers.
While the FLSA sets the minimum standards for wages, hours and overtime, Pennsylvania's overtime laws differ from federal overtime laws to the benefit of its workers.
In Pennsylvania, an employee has the right to overtime pay equal to time and a half for hours worked beyond 40 hours per week or eight hours per day. Pennsylvania doesn't allow an employer to impose a salary limit preventing employees from qualifying for overtime. Overtime pay isn't mandatory for executive, administrative or independent contract positions, though.
Your employer is required by Pennsylvania law to observe the overtime provision that provides you with the greater benefit regardless of whether it originated with state or federal law. This means that if federal law excludes you from receiving overtime but Pennsylvania law permits it, your employer must follow Pennsylvania's overtime law.
If you or a loved one is involved in an employment law dispute, it's in your best interests to consult with an attorney. Employment law is a broad, complicated legal area with federal and state laws at play. An experienced employment law attorney can help protect your legal rights.
Have you been discriminated against by a potential or current employer -- as a job applicant or current employee? To best protect your legal rights you should discuss your situation with an employment lawyer. Meet with a local employment attorney sooner rather than later to protect your rights.