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Your Rights Filing a Wage and Hour Claim - Pennsylvania

Outten & Golden LLP

Does Pennsylvania have state overtime laws that are different from federal law?

Like federal law, Pennsylvania law requires that employees be paid one and a half time their regular rate of pay for any hours worked over 40 in any 7-day workweek.

Anyone who is not covered by Pennsylvania's minimum wage (see #2 below) is also not covered by the state's overtime provisions. In addition, the following individuals who are covered by the state minimum wage requirement are not covered by the overtime requirement:

  • Seamen
  • Salespersons, parts persons, or mechanics selling and servicing automobiles, trailers, trucks, farm implements or aircraft
  • Taxicab drivers
  • Announcers, news editors, or chief engineers at small TV and radio stations
  • Employees engaged in processing maple sap into sugar (other than refined sugar) or syrup
  • Movie theater employees
  • Motor carrier employees

Does Pennsylvania have a minimum wage that is different from federal law?

Pennsylvania's minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, equal to the current federal minimum wage.

The following employees are not covered by Pennsylvania's state minimum wage law:

  • Farm workers
  • Domestic workers employed in or about the private home of their employers
  • Employees connected with the publication of any weekly, semiweekly, or daily newspaper with a circulation of less than 4,000
  • Executive, administrative, or professional employees, including elementary and secondary school teachers and administrators
  • Outside salespersons
  • Volunteers for educational, charitable, religious or nonprofit organizations
  • Seasonal employees under 18 (or under 24 if students) if employed by nonprofit health or welfare agencies engaged in activities for handicapped or exceptional children, or if employed by a nonprofit day or resident recreational camp operating for less than three months out of the year
  • Employees of public amusement or recreational establishments that operate for no more than seven months per year or that make most of their money in only six months out of the year.
  • Golf caddies
  • Switchboard operators for small telephone companies
  • Employees (not subject to civil service laws) of elected officials, or elected officials themselves

Employers are permitted to apply tips against the minimum wage using a complicated formula. In general, the tip credit an employer applies to an employee's wages may not count for more than 40% of the employee's wage. In other words, if a tipped employee is making minimum wage, the employer must pay at least $3.09 per hour which, combined with tips, will add up to $5.15 per hour.

An employer is also allowed to credit the value of board, lodging or other facilities, but only if those are customarily provided by the employer to her/his employees.

Does Pennsylvania have meal and rest break requirements, unlike federal law?

Pennsylvania law does not require employers to provide meal or rest breaks to employees 18 years old or older. If your employer does provide you with a break of twenty minutes or less, (s)he is required to pay you for that time. Employers are not required to pay for meal periods over twenty minutes during which employees are not working. Employees between 14 and 17 years old must receive breaks of thirty minutes for every five consecutive hours worked.

How do I file a wage/hour or labor standards claim in Pennsylvania?

If your employer owes you wages, you can file a claim with the Pennsylvania Department of Wage and Industry. The wage claim form can be found at http://www.dli.state.pa.us/landi/cwp/view.asp?a=142&q=201211. If your claim is valid, the Department will contact your employer in order to help you recover your unpaid wages. If that is not successful, the Department can also bring a suit in court on your behalf against your employer. If your employer does not pay you within sixty days of your filing a claim, you may be entitled to an additional 25% of the value of the wages you are owed.

What are my time deadlines?

Do not delay in contacting the OHR or EEOC to file a claim. There are strict time limits in which charges of wage-and-hour violations must be filed. In order for the Pennsylvania Department of Labor to act on your behalf, you must filed your wage complaint within three years of when your wages are due, since this is the statute of limitations for filing a case for unpaid wages. However, as you might have other legal claims with shorter deadlines, do not wait to file your claim until your time limit is close to expiring. You may wish to consult with an attorney prior to filing your claim, if possible.

How can I or my attorney pursue a claim in court in Pennsylvania?

Instead of filing a wage claim with the Department of Labor, you may also file an individual suit in court to recover your unpaid wages. The statute of limitations for such a claim is three years after the date on which your wages were due. Under certain conditions, the court may require the employer who owes you wages to pay your attorneys' fees and may award you an additional 25% of the wages you are owed.

Contact Information

You can contact the following offices of the Bureau of Labor Law Compliance:

Harrisburg
1301 Labor & Industry Building
Seventh & Forster Streets
Harrisburg, PA 17120-0019
(717) 787-4671
1-800-932-0665

Philadelphia
1103 State Office Building
110 North 8th St., Suite 203
Philadelphia, PA 19107-4064
(215) 560-1858

Pittsburgh
1201 State Office Building
301 5th Ave, Suite 330
Pittsburgh, PA 15222-1210
(412) 565-5300
1-877-504-8354

Altoona: 1-877-792-8198

Scranton
201-B State Office Building
100 Lackawanna Avenue
Scranton, PA 18503-1923
(570) 963-4577
1-877-214-3962


This material was originally prepared by attorney Joseph Jaramillo and former law clerks Keia Cole and Adam Weiss of the law firm Goldstein, Demchak Baller Borgen and Dardarian, and was updated by Professor Douglas D. Scherer, of Touro College, Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center. Professor Scherer also serves as the Vice President of Workplace Fairness.

This page was updated on July 30, 2012

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