Compliance Watch:
What are my rights as a salaried employee in Pennsylvania?

January 29th 2024

Understanding your rights as a salaried employee is crucial in navigating the workforce, ensuring fair treatment, and recognizing when your conditions of employment may be falling short of the legal standards. In Pennsylvania, these rights are anchored in by both federal and state laws that govern various aspects of employment, from work hours and overtime pay to benefits and leave entitlements. This article aims to introduce you, the salaried employees in Pennsylvania, to your basic rights within the workplace. So, without further ado, read on. 

This Article Covers

Defining a Salaried Employee in Pennsylvania
Common Questions About Salaried Employee Rights in Pennsylvania
Understanding Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Status in Pennsylvania
Wage and Hour Regulations in Pennsylvania
Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in Pennsylvania
Taking Action Against Violations in Pennsylvania
Case Studies and Real-Life Scenarios of Salaried Employee Rights Violations in Pennsylvania

Defining a Salaried Employee in Pennsylvania

What is Salaried Employment in Pennsylvania?

Just like other states, salaried employment in Pennsylvania encompasses a work agreement where employees are paid a set amount of income regularly, irrespective of the number of hours worked. This fixed sum agreed upon in the employment contract is not subject to reductions based on the quality or quantity of work performed. Instead, it guarantees the employee a consistent payment for their services, providing financial stability and predictability.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which also applies in Pennsylvania, salaried employees often fall into the category of “exempt” employees. This classification means they are exempt from certain FLSA provisions, such as overtime pay. Typically, to qualify as an exempt salaried employee, an individual must meet specific criteria, including earning at least $684 per week and performing job duties that are executive, administrative, or professional in nature.

Despite the exemption from overtime pay, salaried employment in Pennsylvania is subject to many protective labor laws. These include statutes ensuring non-discriminatory practices, the provision of a safe working environment, and the availability of unemployment and workers’ compensation benefits. Furthermore, Pennsylvania law requires employers to provide certain leaves to salaried employees aligning with or sometimes exceeding federal standards.

It’s also crucial to understand that state-specific regulations might govern aspects of salaried employment, such as termination, severance pay, and any requirements for breaks or days off. These elements are often outlined in the company handbook or the contractual agreement.

Moreover, even as a salaried employee, Pennsylvania labor law stipulates that you are entitled to be paid on designated paydays, and your employer cannot withhold your fixed salary unlawfully. On the other hand, employers are also required by Pennsylvania state law to provide access to personnel files, ensure privacy rights, and uphold any agreed-upon employment contract terms.

What are the Key Differences Between Salaried and Hourly Employees in Pennsylvania?

Key Differences Salaried Employee Hourly Employee
Payment Structure Earn a fixed amount of money regardless of hours worked; typically paid bi-weekly or monthly. Paid based on the actual number of hours worked; wages must be paid for each hour of labor performed.
Overtime Generally exempt from overtime pay, meaning salaried employees do not receive extra compensation for hours worked beyond the standard 40-hour workweek. Entitled to overtime pay (usually 1.5 times the regular hourly rate) for any time worked over the standard 40 hours in a workweek.
Benefits Often receive job benefits such as paid leave, health insurance, and retirement plans, which can vary based on the employer and employment contract. May or may not be entitled to benefits like health insurance, paid time off, etc., often depending on the employer’s policies and part-time or full-time status.
Work Hours Typically expected to complete tasks regardless of the time it takes, which may mean working evenings, weekends, or more than 40 hours without additional pay. Usually work set hours as specified by the employer/company in the contract and are paid extra if they work beyond their scheduled time.
Job Stability/Security Tend to have greater job stability and contractual protections, along with a more predictable income, but may be expected to work irregular hours. Might have less job security and more fluctuating pay, dependent on hours available and worked; however, they are protected against unauthorized deductions and are paid only for the time worked.
FLSA Classification Often classified as “exempt” under the FLSA, meaning they’re not subject to certain provisions like minimum wage and overtime pay requirements. Typically classified as “non-exempt” under the FLSA, meaning they’re covered by minimum wage and overtime laws.

Please note that this table outlines general differences between salaried and hourly employees in Pennsylvania. The specific circumstances for each category of employees can vary widely based on the employer, industry, job classification, and individual agreements. It’s important to consider these factors when making employment-related decisions or comparisons in the state.

To learn more about Pennsylvania labor laws, you can access our informative guides on understanding your rights as an hourly employee in Pennsylvania and discovering how to run payroll in Pennsylvania.

Common Questions About Salaried Employee Rights in Pennsylvania

What are the Basic Rights of Salaried Employees in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, salaried employees have several basic rights afforded to them under various federal and state laws. These basic rights are established to protect salaried employees from exploitation, discrimination, and other unfair labor practices, ensuring a level of security and fairness in the employment relationship. Below, we detail these basic rights, providing a comprehensive understanding necessary for salaried employees operating in Pennsylvania.

  • Right to a Minimum Salary: As per federal law, exempt salaried employees must receive a minimum amount of money for their work, which is at least $684 per week. This amount must be paid regardless of the number of hours worked or the quantity or quality of work performed.
  • Right to a Safe Working Environment: Just like hourly employees, salaried employees in Pennsylvania have the right to work in an environment free from recognized hazards. State and federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines require employers to provide a workplace that does not compromise the safety and health of employees.
  • Right Against Discrimination and Harassment: Under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, along with federal statutes like the Civil Rights Act, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), salaried employees are protected against discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information. These laws also protect employees from harassment based on these protected classes and ensure the right to a workplace free of such unlawful practices.
  • Right to Privacy: Salaried employees have rights related to privacy concerning their personal possessions, including handbags or briefcases, storage lockers accessible only by the employee, and private mail addressed only to the employee. They are also entitled to privacy regarding their medical records, social security numbers, and other sensitive personal information.
  • Right to Family and Medical Leave: Eligible salaried employees have the right to unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This law allows for up to 12 work weeks of leave in a 12-month period for circumstances such as the birth of a child, the care of a family member with a serious health condition, or when the employee is unable to work due to a serious health condition.
  • Right to Fair Treatment for Disabilities: Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), employers cannot discriminate against people with disabilities. Salaried employees in Pennsylvania have the right to reasonable accommodations for their disabilities, provided they can perform the essential functions of their job with or without these accommodations.
  • Right to Workers’ Compensation: If a salaried employee becomes injured or ill due to work-related circumstances, they have the right to receive workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits can cover medical care, rehabilitation services, disability coverage to compensate for lost wages, and even death benefits for dependents in worst-case scenarios.
  • Right to Unemployment Benefits: Salaried employees who lose their jobs through no fault of their own (e.g., due to company downsizing) may be entitled to unemployment compensation in Pennsylvania. This program provides temporary assistance to help unemployed workers.

Is Overtime Pay Applicable to Salaried Employees in Pennsylvania?

Just like other states in the U.S, in Pennsylvania, whether salaried employees are eligible for overtime pay hinges on specific criteria set forth by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), complemented by state labor laws. The core factor in determining overtime eligibility for salaried employees is classification as either “exempt” or “non-exempt” under these regulations.

  • Exempt Employees: If a salaried employee is classified as exempt, it means they are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), overtime rules. This classification typically applies to executive, administrative, professional, outside sales, and certain computer employees. These employees must perform specific job duties outlined by the FLSA and generally must be compensated on a salary basis at not less than $684 per week, although there are exceptions. Exempt employees are expected to fulfill the duties without additional compensation, regardless of the number of hours required. This means that, in Pennsylvania, employers are not obligated to pay overtime to exempt salaried employees, no matter how many hours they work.
  • Non-Exempt Employees: Salaried employees classified as non-exempt are subject to the overtime provisions of the FLSA. This means that, even though they receive a salary, they must be paid overtime at a rate of one and a half times their regular rate for any hours worked beyond the standard 40-hour workweek. It’s crucial for employers to accurately track the number of hours worked by non-exempt salaried employees to comply with state and federal laws.
  • State Regulations: Pennsylvania state law generally follows the federal FLSA but does include provisions to protect employees further. Any discrepancies between state and federal law tend to be resolved in whatever manner provides the greater benefit to the salaried employee.

Can Employers Deduct Wages from Salaried Employees?

Whether employers can deduct wages from salaried employees is a topic often confronted in the workforce, and understanding the specifics is crucial. Note that regulations may vary by jurisdiction and certain considerations, and they are subject to change. The information provided here is based on federal and specific Pennsylvania state laws, and it is always advisable to consult with a legal professional or relevant authority for the most current guidance.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that governs wage and hour protections for salaried employees. Under the FLSA, salaried employees are often classified as “exempt” employees, meaning they’re exempt from overtime requirements based on their job duties and salary level. This classification has significant implications for wage deductions.

In general, the salary basis requirement for exempt employees means that these employees receive a predetermined amount of compensation, which cannot be reduced due to variations in the work performed. This fixed salary must be paid even if the employee does no work at all during a week, provided they are ready, willing, and able to work. However, there are certain circumstances under which employers can deduct from the salaries of exempt employees:

  • Full-day absences for personal reasons: If an exempt employee in Pennsylvania is absent for one or more full days for personal reasons other than sickness or disability, an employer can make deductions from the employee’s salary, ensuring compliance with relevant laws.
  • Full-day absences for sickness or disability: If the company has a plan that compensates for loss of salary caused by illness or disability, deductions for full-day absences can be made under this plan. However, this is only after the employee has exhausted their leave allowance.
  • Partial-week work during the first or last week of employment: If an employee works partially during the first or last week, the employer is not required to pay them for the full week.
  • Unpaid disciplinary suspensions: Deductions can be made for full or partial-day disciplinary suspensions for infractions of written contract/company-based policies.
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): Under the FMLA, unpaid leave is allowed for certain family and medical situations, and deductions can be made for whole or partial day.
  • Public duty: Deductions may be made for penalties imposed in good faith for infractions of safety rules (prohibiting smoking in explosive plants, oil refineries, and coal mines).

It’s important for employers to follow these rules carefully, as improper deductions can result in a loss of the exemption status for the salaried employee, which would mean the employer needs to comply with minimum wage and overtime requirements. Specific to Pennsylvania, state laws generally align with federal laws regarding these matters. However, Pennsylvania employers also need to be aware of state-specific rules governing wage payments. For instance, Pennsylvania law requires that employers pay on scheduled paydays designated in advance.

While employers can make certain deductions from an exempt employee’s salary, these deductions must comply with specific federal and state regulations to avoid legal issues. Due to the complexities of employment law, it is often in the best interest of the employer to consult with a human resources expert or legal professional when handling such matters.

Are Salaried Employees Eligible for Breaks and Leaves in Pennsylvania?

Understanding the entitlements of salaried employees regarding breaks and leaves is crucial, especially within specific jurisdictions like Pennsylvania. Here are the standards and regulations as they apply to breaks and leaves for salaried (often exempt) employees in Pennsylvania:

Breaks

Pennsylvania labor law stipulates that employers are not required by state law to provide breaks, including lunch breaks, for workers 18 years or older. However, when employers choose to provide short breaks (usually lasting about 5 to 20 minutes) to salaried employees, federal law considers these within the workday, meaning employees must be compensated. 

Lunch or meal periods, typically 30 minutes or more, do not need to be compensated. Thus, employers can mandate unpaid meal breaks, provided the employee is relieved of duty. Although Pennsylvania law doesn’t require meal breaks for adults, it’s crucial to note that many employers still offer these breaks as part of standard company policy or due to industry norms.

Leaves

Salaried employees in Pennsylvania are covered under several statutes, depending on:

  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): The federal FMLA also protects Pennsylvania employees, allowing eligible employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. This includes the birth of a child, adoption, foster care placement, personal or family illness, or family military leave. It guarantees the continuation of health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.
  • Sick Leave: Pennsylvania does not have a statewide law requiring private employers to provide employees with paid or unpaid sick leave, but employers may be obligated to provide unpaid sick leave in accordance with the FMLA or similar laws. However, it’s worth noting that certain cities within Pennsylvania, such as Philadelphia, have ordinances requiring sick leave.
  • Vacation Leave: In Pennsylvania, vacation leave benefits are a matter of agreement between an employer and an employee (or the employee’s representative). The state law does not require employers to provide vacation, whether paid or unpaid, but if an employer agrees to offer such leave, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.
  • Bereavement Leave: Pennsylvania employers are not required by state law to provide salaried employees bereavement leave or leave to attend funerals. It’s important to note that Bereavement leave is generally a matter of agreement between an employer and an employee.
  • Jury Duty and Voting Leave: Pennsylvania law requires employers to allow salaried employees time off to respond to a jury summons or serve on a jury, and employees cannot be penalized or docked pay for jury duty attendance. However, there is no law requiring employers to pay employees for time spent complying with jury service. Similarly, there are no Pennsylvania laws requiring companies to give employees leave, paid or unpaid, to vote.
  • Military Leave: Federal law establishes the rights and responsibilities for uniformed service members and their civilian employers within the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), which applies to all Pennsylvania employers.
  • Pandemic-Related Leaves: During certain health emergencies, additional statutes may apply, such as specific COVID-19 regulations that have required employers to provide paid or unpaid leave for reasons related to the pandemic. These regulations can change rapidly, influencing workforce dynamics, and their application can vary based on the situation.

Can Salaried Employees Request Flexible Work Arrangements in Pennsylvania?

If you’re a salaried employee in Pennsylvania, you might be wondering whether you can ask for flexible work arrangements. The answer is yes, you can request them. Pennsylvania doesn’t have state-specific laws forcing employers to grant flexible schedules, but you’re always free to ask.

The process usually involves a formal or informal discussion with your employer. You might need to provide reasons for the request, like family commitments or health issues. Note that while you can ask, your employer isn’t legally bound to agree to a flexible schedule. Their decision might depend on the company’s policies, the nature of your job, and operational needs.

However, if you’re seeking flexibility due to medical conditions or family responsibilities, you might be protected under federal laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). These laws don’t directly dictate flexible work schedules, but they require employers to make reasonable accommodations for eligible employees.

In recent years, recognizing the benefits of flexible working, many companies in PA have become more open to such arrangements. But remember, the key lies in mutual agreement between you and your employer. It’s always a good idea to approach this topic professionally, clearly presenting how your proposed arrangement could work for both you and your company.

Understanding Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Status in Pennsylvania

What is the Definition and Implications of Exempt Status in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, an “exempt” status refers to a category of employees who are exempt from certain labor law protections, primarily concerning overtime pay and minimum wage requirements. This classification has specific criteria based on state and federal laws. To be considered exempt in Pennsylvania, an employee generally must meet three primary criteria:

  • Salary Basis: In Pennsylvania state, the employee must be paid on a salaried basis, meaning they receive a fixed minimum amount of money for any standard workweek (typically 40 hours) in which they perform any work. This amount must meet a minimum specified threshold.
  • Salary Level: Federally, this salary must be at least $684 per week (which equates to $35,568 annually). However, it’s crucial to recognize that these figures can be updated, and employers must abide by the threshold beneficial to the employee, whether at the state or federal level.
  • Job Duties: The employee’s primary job duties must fall within executive, administrative, or professional (EAP) categories as defined by law. This usually means they perform high-level work tasks that require discretion and independent judgment without close supervision.

The implications of being classified as an exempt employee in Pennsylvania are significant:

  • Overtime Pay: Exempt employees do not receive overtime pay. Pennsylvania law requires non-exempt employees to be paid 1.5 times the rate for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek, but this does not apply to exempt employees, regardless of how many hours they work.
  • Breaks and Meal Periods: Exempt employees are not entitled to rest or meal breaks under Pennsylvania state law, unlike non-exempt employees. While employers/companies may offer breaks, they are not mandated to do so for exempt staff, although it’s often encouraged.
  • Recordkeeping: Employers do not need to keep records of work hours for exempt employees, unlike non-exempt employees. This lack of recordkeeping reflects the nature of exempt positions, which prioritize job responsibilities and achievements over logged work hours.
  • Salary Deductions: The salary of an exempt salaried employee is not subject to deductions based on the quality or quantity of work. However, there are specific, limited situations where deductions are legal, such as for certain types of absences or predefined company policies.

It’s important for salaried employees in Pennsylvania like yourself to understand these exemption status to ensure you are receiving fair compensation and other entitlements. Misclassification can lead to significant issues, such as back pay for overtime and penalties for the employer. If there’s uncertainty or a dispute regarding exempt status, immediately seek guidance from a legal advisor or the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry.

What are the Differences Between Exempt and Non-Exempt Salaried Employees in Pennsylvania?

Key Differences Exempt Employee Non-Exempt Employee
Overtime Pay Typically, do not receive overtime pay regardless of the number of hours worked beyond the standard 40-hour workweek. Must be paid overtime (usually 1.5 times the regular rate) for hours worked in excess of 40 per workweek.
Salary Basis Generally, they must be paid on a salary basis, meaning they receive a standard amount of money each pay period, regardless of hours worked. This salary must meet a certain threshold as per federal and state laws. May be salaried, but they are still entitled to overtime pay. The salary does not negate their right to overtime compensation.
Job Duties Often work in professional, managerial, or executive roles. They must typically perform specific duties that qualify them for exempt status under the FLSA. Often perform duties that do not qualify for exempt status. Their roles might involve clerical, blue-collar, or technical work, among others.
Breaks and Rest Periods Not entitled to breaks or rest periods under federal law, though employers may offer them as a part of the company policy. Pennsylvania law mandates that certain non-exempt employees receive meal periods after working more than five consecutive hours, though this is unpaid. There are no specific rules for short breaks, but if given, they are usually paid.
Minimum Wage Must be paid at least $684 per week (as of the last update before 2022, though this figure can be higher depending on subsequent regulations) on a salary basis by federal law. State laws may set higher thresholds. Must be paid at least the federal minimum wage or the state minimum wage, whichever is higher. As of my last update, Pennsylvania’s minimum wage conforms with the federal minimum, but this may change with new legislation.
Recordkeeping Employers may have less extensive recordkeeping requirements for exempt employees. For instance, they might not need to track work hours precisely. Employers must keep detailed records of non-exempt employees’ work hours, wages, and overtime to comply with federal and state laws.

Please note that employment laws in Pennsylvania are dynamic. The above table provides a general comparison of the basic definitions, entitlements, protections, and other distinctions between exempt and non-exempt employees in Pennsylvania. However, it’s important to consult the latest state and federal regulations or seek legal advice for more up-to-date information.

How to Determine if You’re Exempt or Non-Exempt in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, as in all U.S. states, the distinction between exempt and non-exempt employees hinges on criteria set by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) at the federal level, even though individual states can impose their requirements. Understanding your classification is crucial as it determines your eligibility for overtime pay, among other work standards. Here’s how salaried employees in Pennsylvania can determine if they’re exempt or non-exempt:

  • Salary Threshold: First, consider your salary. According to the latest guidelines, typically, employees must earn at least $684 per week ($35,568 annually) to be considered for exempt status. However, earning more than this amount doesn’t automatically make you exempt, but earning less usually means you are non-exempt, necessitating overtime pay eligibility.
  • Salary Basis: You must receive your salary on a “salary basis,” meaning your defined salary is not subject to reductions due to the quality or quantity of work. Essentially, you receive a guaranteed minimum amount of money for any workweek during which you perform any work.
  • Job Duties: This aspect, critical in the evaluation process, is often the deciding factor. The FLSA outlines specific job duties that qualify a salaried employee as exempt, generally falling into executive, professional, or administrative categories, each with distinct criteria. “Executive” roles involve managing a business, directing the work of at least two employees, and having substantial say in personnel decisions. “Professional” roles require advanced knowledge, often from extended education, or artistic ability and creativity. “Administrative” positions entail non-manual work significant to business operations, necessitating decision-making authority. These classifications hinge specifically on job responsibilities and decision-making capacity.
  • State Regulations: Though the FLSA provides guidelines, consider any state-specific rules that may apply. Pennsylvania may have regulations that expand upon the federal standards, including overtime exemptions or protections. Always check the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry’s latest updates to ensure you’re referencing the most current laws.
  • Seek Clarification: If you’re unsure about your status, consider discussing it with your HR department. They can provide specifics about your employment classification. For further clarification or if you suspect misclassification, you might also consider consulting with an employment attorney or reaching out to the local Department of Labor office for guidance.

Determining exempt or non-exempt status can be nuanced, depending largely on the specifics of your job duties rather than your job title or salary alone. At the end of the day, it’s important to stay informed about both federal and state laws governing employment classifications.

Wage and Hour Regulations in Pennsylvania

What are the Minimum Wage Requirements for Salaried Employees in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania adheres to the federal minimum wage standards for salaried employees, which mandate that employers must pay their workers at least the federal standard minimum wage. However, it’s important to recognize that there are nuances for salaried employees in PA, especially those classified as exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

  • Federal Minimum Wage: The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Pennsylvania’s state law mirrors this, meaning all workers, including those on salary, technically need to earn at least this hourly equivalent. Even as a salaried worker, your total paid hours shouldn’t create a scenario where your average pay is less than the federal minimum wage.
  • Salary Threshold for Exempt Employees: For those classified as exempt, there’s a minimum salary threshold you must earn to maintain your exempt status, ensuring you’re not eligible for overtime. As previously mentioned, this threshold is $684 per week or $35,568 annually. This salary basis test is crucial because, regardless of your duties, earning less than this typically means you are not exempt from overtime, irrespective of your job title.
  • Changes and Updates: It’s essential to stay updated with state legislation, as states often propose changes to labor laws. Pennsylvania legislators have considered raising the minimum wage above the federal standard, and such a change would affect all salaried and hourly workers statewide, including salaried employees. Thus, ensure to regularly check with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry or legal resources for the most recent information.
  • Exceptions and Additional Considerations: Be aware that certain occupations and industries have different requirements or exemptions from the standard minimum wage laws. Furthermore, non-exempt salaried employees are entitled to overtime pay for hours worked beyond the standard 40-hour workweek, calculated based on their hourly equivalent rate.

Given these points, as a salaried employee in Pennsylvania, it’s vital to ensure your earnings comply with these federal standards. And if you believe they don’t, or if you’re confused about your classification and rights, consider seeking further advice from a human resources expert or legal professional well-versed in employment law. They can offer guidance tailored to your specific circumstances, helping you navigate this complex aspect of employment with ease.

 

How is Overtime Compensated for Salaried Employees in Pennsylvania?

Just like other states in the United States of America, Overtime compensation for salaried employees in Pennsylvania is subject to guidelines established by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which governs work hours and pay. The crux of understanding overtime lies in knowing whether you’re considered an “exempt” or “non-exempt” employee. Here’s how it works:

  • Non-Exempt Salaried Employees: If you’re a non-exempt employee, Pennsylvania law stipulates that you are entitled to overtime pay. This means that for every hour you work over 40 hours in a workweek, you should receive 1.5 times your regular rate of pay. To calculate this, you must determine your hourly rate by dividing your total weekly salary by the number of hours you’re contracted to work. If you exceed 40 hours, the extra hours should be compensated at the overtime rate. This is not just a privilege; it’s a legal right for non-exempt workers.
  • Exempt Salaried Employees: If you’re an exempt employee in Pennsylvania, the situation is quite different. Exemptions are typically based on your job duties and salary and usually apply to professional, administrative, and executive employees. Exempt workers do not receive overtime, regardless of how many hours they work in a week. This classification is lawful as long as your job duties align with the definitions set by the FLSA and you meet the salary threshold, which is a minimum of $35,568 annually or $684 per week, as of the latest update.
  • Compliance and Claims: It’s crucial that employers in Pennsylvania adhere to these federal laws. If you suspect you’re wrongly classified or not receiving lawful overtime pay, you should first address these concerns internally, perhaps with your HR department. If the issue isn’t resolved, you may consider filing a complaint with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry or the U.S. Department of Labor. They can investigate the matter, and if a violation is found, they can enforce penalties and ensure you receive any owed compensation.
  • Keeping Informed: Employment laws can evolve, so it’s important for salaried employees in Pennsylvania to keep up with any changes. Regularly reviewing information from the Department of Labor or consulting with employment law professionals can help you stay informed about your rights and any new legislative adjustments affecting overtime.

Understanding your employment classification and the associated rights is key to ensuring you’re compensated fairly for your work in Pennsylvania. By any chance, if you’re uncertain about any aspects, professional guidance or legal advice can help clarify your situation.

Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in Pennsylvania

What are the Permissible Deductions from Salaried Employee Pay in- Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, several legitimate deductions can be made from a salaried employee’s paycheck. These deductions, both mandatory and voluntary, are governed by federal and state laws, and employers are required to comply with these legal standards. Below are the common types of deductions that can be applied to a salaried employee’s pay in Pennsylvania:

  • Tax Withholdings: The most routine deductions are for federal, state, and local taxes. These include income tax, Social Security, and Medicare (FICA). The amounts are subject to the individual’s earnings, tax rates, and their selected withholdings on their W-4 form.
  • Court-Ordered Payments: These involve wage garnishments or child support that an employee is legally obligated to pay. The court mandates these, and the employer is responsible for withholding these funds from the employee’s paycheck to comply with legal requirements.
  • Health and Benefits Plans: If a salaried employee has elected to participate in any company/employer-sponsored programs, such as health, dental, or life insurance, or a retirement savings plan like a 401(k), the agreed-upon contributions or premiums are typically deducted directly from the employee’s paycheck, ensuring financial and health security.
  • Repayment of Loans or Advances: If an employee has received a salary advance or loan from the employer, the employer can deduct the amounts due from the employee’s paycheck, often in agreed-upon installments. This arrangement should typically be documented in writing.
  • Union Dues: For employees in a unionized workplace, union dues are a common deduction. These fees are for union membership and contribution to collective bargaining, and the exact amount may vary based on the agreement between the union and the employees.
  • Employee Purchases or Charges: If employees have access to company products, services, or other charge accounts (like for uniforms or equipment), their share of the costs can be deducted. However, employees must have agreed in writing to such purchases or charges.
  • Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation: Employers may deduct a portion of the unemployment compensation tax from employees’ wages. However, this is not a mandatory practice and varies from employer to employer, depending on individual company policies.

Employers must strictly follow Pennsylvania’s Wage Payment and Collection Law, ensuring that employees have authorized any non-legally mandated deductions in writing. Furthermore, deductions must never cut into the minimum wage or overtime compensation required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), except in specific circumstances allowed by law.

What are the Provided Employee Benefits and Protections Under Pennsylvania State Law?

In Pennsylvania, salaried employees are entitled to several benefits and protections under state law. These provisions are designed to ensure the welfare, safety, and fair treatment of workers within the state. So, without further ado, here are the key benefits and protections provided:

  • Minimum Wage Compliance: Pennsylvania law ensures employees receive at least the prevailing minimum wage, which is subject to change. Employers are obligated to comply with this rate unless federal law provides for a higher rate, in which case the higher rate applies.
  • Overtime Pay: Salaried employees who exceed 40 work hours in a workweek and are not exempt under the FLSA must receive overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times their regular pay rate.
  • Meal and Break Periods: Pennsylvania state law mandates that employers provide certain break periods. Salaried employees working long shifts are entitled to meal breaks. While these breaks are unpaid, they offer necessary rest and recuperation within work schedules.
  • Workers’ Compensation: Employees are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. This system is designed to provide medical care and financial assistance if an employee becomes injured or ill due to job-related circumstances, thereby enhancing workplace security.
  • Unemployment Compensation: If an individual becomes unemployed through no fault of their own, they may be eligible for unemployment benefits under Pennsylvania law. This state-mandated program provides temporary financial assistance to help unemployed workers.
  • Leave Benefits: While Pennsylvania doesn’t have a statewide law requiring paid leave, various family and medical leave protections apply based on federal laws. These ensure that workers can take unpaid time off for specific health or family reasons without fear of job loss.
  • Anti-Discrimination Laws: Employees in Pennsylvania are protected under state and federal laws from discrimination based on categories such as race, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or sexual orientation. These laws ensure fair treatment in all aspects of employment.
  • Right to Organize: Employees have the right to join together to discuss work conditions or form a union. They are protected against employer retaliation for participating in collective bargaining or other labor organization activities, fostering a fair working environment.
  • Health and Safety Regulations: Employers are required to provide a safe working environment under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). They must follow health and safety guidelines to prevent workplace accidents and illnesses among the workers. 
  • Privacy Rights: Although Pennsylvania doesn’t provide privacy rights for employees, federal laws impose restrictions on employers regarding medical information and other sensitive data.

Taking Action Against Violations in Pennsylvania

How to Report Violations to Authorities or the Pennsylvania Division of Labor

If you’re in Pennsylvania and need to report a violation concerning salaried (or hourly) employment, workplace safety, discrimination, or any other related issue, it’s crucial that you contact the right authorities promptly to ensure your concerns are appropriately addressed. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry is the primary state agency handling such matters, and they provide several resources for reporting various violations efficiently.

To report general labor law violations, such as unpaid wages, denial of breaks, or wrongful termination, you should contact the Bureau of Labor Law Compliance. You can file a complaint online through their official website or reach them by phone at 1-800-932-0665.

For workplace safety concerns, you need to contact the Pennsylvania Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is responsible for ensuring workplace safety. You can file a complaint via the OSHA website or call the national OSHA hotline at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).

In cases of discrimination, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) is the relevant agency. They handle violations related to discrimination based on race, sex, age, disability, and other protected characteristics. You can visit the PHRC website to learn more about the complaint process. For immediate assistance, you can also call them at 717-787-4410.

Note that when reporting a violation, you should be ready to provide detailed information about the incident, including the type of violation, when and where it occurred, and any evidence you might have. Additionally, certain complaints, especially those related to workplace safety, can also be filed confidentially to protect your identity. Remember, these processes are in place to protect employees and ensure a fair and safe working environment. By any chance, if you’re unsure about the process, consulting with a legal professional could provide further guidance.

Case Studies and Real-Life Scenarios of Salaried Employee Rights Violations in Pennsylvania

Age Discrimination: Sunbury Resolves Age Discrimination Lawsuit with Ex-Police Officer for $25,000

In a recent development, the city of Sunbury, Pennsylvania, has agreed to a settlement amounting to $25,000 in the case of an age discrimination lawsuit filed by former police officer Scott A. Hause, who faced termination after a controversial incident involving the use of a stun gun (a weapon used to mobilize) on a homeless individual, resolving a prolonged legal dispute.

The resolution, which came in August of the previous year, allocated $16,667 to Hause, with the balance covering his legal expenses. This agreement was achieved without the city acknowledging any fault, and until recently, the details of the accord remained under wraps.

The root of the lawsuit traces back to Hause’s dismissal from the force on September 1, 2016, following the stun gun episode. However, his legal action was grounded in alleged age discrimination. In his lawsuit, Hause charged the city and the then-Mayor David L. Persing with initiating a pattern of intimidation towards officers above the age of 40, a clear violation of the Age Discrimination Employment Act, thereby challenging the employment practices.

The case took a significant turn when U.S. Middle District Senior Judge Yvette Kane dismissed it in the year 2019 in December, citing the irrelevance of age in the firing decision. However, an appeal in the United States 3rd Circuit Court swiftly challenged this ruling, leading to a remand for Judge Kane to consider whether arbitration should have been compelled initially.

The city’s stance for arbitration as a fallback remained unexplored as the case settled outside court. The original grounds for Hause’s termination were his actions during the July 13, 2016, incident and dishonesty throughout the subsequent inquiry. This stance was later upheld by Arbitrator Lynn Mountz, who affirmed the breach of the city’s use of force policy by Hause.

Testimonies during the arbitration, especially from the homeless individuals involved,  painted a picture of compliance and fear, starkly contrasting Hause’s version of events. This assessment, coupled with surveillance footage, weakened Hause’s defense. The settlement sum was fully derived from the city of Sunbury’s insurance, a city representative meticulously confirmed.

Key Takeaways from the Case:

  • The settlement firmly highlights the gravity and potentially steep financial implications of discrimination lawsuits for local governments, even without an official admission of guilt.
  • It underscores the necessity for municipalities and their leadership to adhere strictly to federal anti-discrimination laws, particularly concerning age-related employment practices.
  • The case serves as a crucial, timely reminder for law enforcement agencies regarding the adherence to ethical conduct, transparent operational procedures, and the significant repercussions of deviating from established use of force protocols in any situation.
  • Arbitration and alternative dispute resolution continue to be pivotal in resolving employment disputes, although they remain secondary to court rulings in certain legal frameworks.
  • Transparency in legal proceedings and settlements, especially involving public servants, reinforces public trust and accountability in federal/governmental institutions.

Wage Theft: Pennsylvania Contractor Fined $20.7M in Landmark Wage Theft Case.

In a precedent-setting conclusion, Glenn O. Hawbaker, a road and bridge contractor based in State College, Pennsylvania, has been handed the largest sentence for prevailing wage theft in U.S. history, as emphatically announced by state Attorney General Josh Shapiro. The contractor pled no contest, resulting in a massive payout of nearly $20.7 million in restitution payments to 1,267 affected workers and stringent oversight measures imposed over the next five years.

The extensive investigation into Hawbaker’s practices unveiled that the company had egregiously violated the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act and the Davis-Bacon Act. These laws are instrumental in safeguarding workers’ rights, ensuring that contractors engaged in state or federally-funded projects adhere to standard wage rates as stipulated by governmental bodies. 

However, Hawbaker found a detour by wrongfully utilizing funds explicitly earmarked for “fringe benefits” to bolster the retirement accounts of all its staff, including high-ranking executives, instead of directing them solely to the deserving prevailing wage workers.

This scheme extended further, involving the misappropriating of health and welfare benefits funds, deceitfully using them to offset costs of the comprehensive plan for all employees, and skillfully cloaking the dubious activity through inflating costs and claiming credit for prohibited expenditures. Despite the overwhelming evidence pointing to decades-long malpractices, legal constraints meant charges could only encompass misdemeanors spanning the past five years.

Hawbaker’s standing as a significant contributor to Pennsylvania’s infrastructure, with government contracts worth approximately $1.7 billion from 2003 to 2018, casts a spotlight on the magnitude of this legal outcome. In response, the company maintains that it operated under legal counsel and federal scrutiny, believing its fringe benefits practices were compliant with all pertinent regulations. The decision to enter a no-contest plea was, they claim, to avoid jeopardizing the stability of numerous employees reliant on the company’s continuity.

Key Takeaways from the Case

  • The case underscores the critical importance of compliance with wage and benefit laws for contractors in the state, particularly those undertaking state or federally-funded projects, reflecting the severe legal, financial repercussions, and reputational damage of violations.
  • Vigilant state-level oversight is paramount to ensure the integrity of wage disbursement practices, protecting workers from exploitative loopholes in the provision of fringe benefits.
  • The substantial restitution and probation measures emphasize the legal system’s commitment to upholding workers’ rights, serving as a deterrent against the misuse of employee benefits funds. 
  • Contractors are urged to engage in thorough, ongoing reviews of their compensation policies and seek regular compliance audits to prevent potential contravention of wage and benefits laws, safeguarding their workforce, company reputation, and ensuring operational integrity.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, understanding your rights as a salaried employee in Pennsylvania is crucial for workplace fairness. From overtime pay regulations to lawful deductions and break entitlements, being informed safeguards you from potential exploitation. Always consult legal counsel for intricate situations, ensuring your rights are upheld. Proactive engagement with employment laws helps foster a balanced, compliant, and respectful working environment for all.

Important Cautionary Note

When making this guide, we have tried to make it accurate, but we do not give any guarantee that the information provided is correct or up-to-date. We therefore strongly advise you to seek advice from qualified professionals before acting on any information provided in this guide. We do not accept any liability for any damages or risks incurred for the use of this guide.