Pennsylvania State Labor Laws

Pennsylvania State Labor Laws

Employers are prohibited from making employment decisions based on discriminatory reasons because of the religion, sex, race, color, pregnancy status or national origin of applicants or employees under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Other laws prohibit age, disability and genetic information discrimination. These laws cover employers who have at least 15 employees with the exception of age discrimination, which covers employers who have 20 or more employees. All facets of employment are covered, including advertising, applications, recruitment, hiring, pay, benefits, promotions, leave, layoffs, firing and discipline.

Pennsylvania state labor laws also protect workers from discrimination based on their protected statuses. Workers in the state are also protected based on having GEDs instead of high school diplomas or using service animals. Employers who have at least four employees are covered by Pennsylvania’s anti-discrimination laws.

Pennsylvania labor laws also make it illegal to harass a worker based on his or her protected status. Harassment is defined as unwanted actions or comments that create a hostile working environment. The most familiar type of harassment is sexual, but it may also be based on race, disability or other traits.

If you complain about discrimination or harassment either within your company or to a government agency, PA labor laws protect you from retaliation. Your employer is forbidden from taking any negative employment action against you for exercising your employee rights, including disciplining, firing or otherwise penalizing you.

The right to take leave from work in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania state labor laws do not mandate that employers offer their employees paid leave, including vacation, sick, holidays or paid time off. Employers may still be required to offer their workers unpaid leave for several different reasons.

1. Military leave

Under the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act and Pennsylvania labor laws, employers must let their workers take time off from work in order to perform military service for the state or federal government. When their leave is over, employees must be reinstated, and employers may not discriminate against them because of their military service.

2. Family and medical leave

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, employers with 50 or more employees must allow eligible workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to recuperate from their own serious health conditions or to care for family members who have serious health conditions. While you are on leave, your group health benefits must continue. You also are entitled to be reinstated when you are finished with your leave.

3. Jury duty

PA labor laws mandate that employers let their employees take time off from work to serve on juries, and they may not threaten employees just because they are called up to serve on juries. It is illegal for employees to lose their benefits or seniority because the have reported for jury duty.

4. Workers’ compensation and workplace safety

Employers in all states are legally obligated to provide relatively safe workplaces for their workers. This includes providing healthy work conditions, training and safety equipment. If you believe that your employer is violating safety rules, you have the right to request an inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Your employer may not retaliate against you for making complaints about dangerous working conditions.

If you are injured at work, you may be covered under the state’s workers’ compensation insurance. A majority of employers in Pennsylvania are mandated to carry workers’ compensation insurance. It provides injured workers with a portion of their normal earnings and pays for all of the medical expenses associated with workplace injuries. It also may provide vocational rehabilitation to workers who need it.

Pennsylvania wage and hour laws

Both state and federal laws establish the wage and hour standards that Pennsylvania employers must follow. These standards include the payment of a minimum wage and overtime as well as other wage protections. Pennsylvania’s minimum wage is currently $7.25, which is the same as the federal minimum wage. Tipped employees are allowed to be paid $2.83 per hour if their tips are enough to make the total hourly rate at least $7.25 per hour.

Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and Pennsylvania state laws, Employers must pay workers who work more than 40 hours in a week time and a half. Some workers are exempt from the overtime laws, however, which means they are ineligible for overtime pay.

When you leave your employment in Pennsylvania

In general, people in Pennsylvania are employed at-will. This means that their employers may fire them for any reason and at any time except for prohibited reasons, including retaliation or discrimination.

People who lose their jobs without any fault of their own may be eligible for unemployment benefits. In order to continue receiving benefits after you have been granted them, you will need to continue looking for a new job. Unemployment benefits are paid as a percentage of your prior earnings for up to 26 weeks while you look for new work.

You are also eligible to continue your former company’s health insurance coverage for between 18 and 36 months after you leave your employment under the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. If you do so, the full premium will be your responsibility as well as a 2 percent charge for administrative costs.

If you have questions about Pennsylvania’s employment laws or feel that your rights under these laws have been violated, contact an attorney at Swartz Swidler to schedule your consultation.