Job security is not what it was several decades ago. An increasing number of workers depend on the gig economy, where you constantly have to hustle and reinvent yourself for every paycheck; it is not much of an exaggeration to say that people whose only source of income is 1099 gigs do not know where their next meal is coming from. Cushy jobs where you get a monthly salary and an employment contract that guarantees that the same employer will continue to issue you a paycheck every month until a specified date are few and far between.
Most workers hired as employees are hired on an at-will basis, which means that the job lasts indefinitely, as opposed to being temporary, but the employer and the employee both have the right to terminate the employment relationship on very short notice and for almost any reason. Likewise, most workers get paid by the hour, and the number of hours they work varies from one week to the next. Not knowing how much money you will earn or how busy you will be next week is stressful, but you know that you get a certain amount per hour, and more in weeks where your workload is more than 40 hours, which is considered full-time. The Philadelphia wage and hour lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP can help you resolve disputes with your employer related to hourly wages and overtime pay.
Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Laws
As of 2023, the state minimum wage in Pennsylvania is $7.25 per hour, which is the same as the federal minimum wage. Employers have the right to pay employees a starting salary of more than $7.25, and in Philadelphia, where the cost of living is so high, many of them do.
If you earn an average of at least $135 per month in tips, Pennsylvania considers you a tipped employee. Employers must pay tipped employees a minimum of $2.83 per hour. The assumption is that, in a given shift, a tipped employee will earn at least $4.42 per hour in tips, so he or she will earn a total of at least $7.25 per hour. This is true in businesses where each employee keeps the tips that he or she earns individually and in businesses where the tip-earning staff pool their tips and divide them evenly at the end of the shift. If an employee does not earn an average of at least $4.42 per hour in tips, the employer must pay the difference so that the employee’s pay comes out to $7.25 per hour for that shift.
Some jobs are exempt from the minimum wage, pursuant to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, meaning that employers can pay workers less than the minimum wage. These are some examples of jobs exempt from the minimum wage:
- Some work-study jobs held by university students
- A “training wage” less than the minimum wage for workers below the age of 20 during their first 90 days at their job
- Some workers whose disabilities substantially limit the work they can do, even with reasonable accommodations
- Households hiring babysitters and other domestic employees on an informal basis
Is Your Job Eligible for Overtime Pay?
Federal and state overtime pay laws require employers to pay employees 1.5 times the minimum wage for every hour beyond 40 hours that they work in a given week. If an employee’s usual wage is $10 per hour, and she works 50 hours between Sunday and Saturday, the employer must pay her $8 each for the first 40 hours and $15 each for the additional hours. The following Sunday, her wage goes back to $10 per hour.
Overtime pay applies to full-time and part-time workers. In the aforementioned example, the employee would have the same right to overtime pay for her additional hours beyond the 40th in the exceptionally busy work week, whether her usual workload was 40 hours per week or only 20.
Overtime pay does not apply to seasonal workers. For example, if your job at the candy apple stand at the county fair lasts only four weeks, the expectation is that you will work more than 40 hours for each of those four weeks, and your employer will not have to pay you overtime for it. Likewise, employees who get a monthly salary and whose work is mostly of an intellectual nature do not get overtime pay. For example, an employee in the cybersecurity department of a company would not get overtime pay if his employment contract promises a monthly salary, even though some weeks he works more than 40 hours. The bad news is that independent contractors, who receive a 1099 tax form, are not entitled to overtime pay, even though they work more than 40 hours some weeks.
Legally Protected Activities and Employer Retaliation
If your employer does not pay you at least the minimum wage or the wage agreed upon when you started working or received your most recent raise, the law is on your side. Likewise, whether you quit or it was your employer’s decision to end the employment relationship, your employer does not have the right to withhold your paycheck and must pay you for all the time that you worked.
You have the right to file an internal or external complaint against your employer if they do not pay you the money you have rightfully earned, including but not limited to overtime pay. You also have the right to be paid as an employee if you do the work of an employee, even if your employer considers you an independent contractor. If an employer fires you or otherwise takes adverse action against you for exercising your right to fair pay, this is employer retaliation, which is against the law.
Contact HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP About Wage and Hour Disputes
The Philadelphia employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP can help you resolve disputes with your employer related to fair pay and overtime pay. Contact the employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to set up a consultation.