Filing a Wage Claim at the Magisterial District Judge
Frequently Asked Questions about Wage Claims
What rights do I have when it comes to getting paid?
The Pennsylvania Wage Payment & Collection Law Covers Pennsylvania employers
Requires that workers be paid their full pay on pay day
Requires employers to pay the PROMISED wage
Fair Labor Standards Act
Establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and child labor standards
Requires that employees be paid at least $7.25/hr, effective July 24, 2009
Must be paid for each hour WORKED
Must be paid 1.5 times normal rate for time worked over 40 hours/week, unless you are an exempt employee
Is my employer allowed to take deductions from my wages to cover things like damage to company property?
No. The Wage Payment & Collection Law provides a limited list of authorized deductions that employers are allowed to take out of your paycheck. These include deductions for pension plans, stock option plans, charitable deductions, payroll taxes, union dues, court orders, etc. (For a full list, see the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry web page on “Payment of Wages to Employees“)
In general, you must provide written permission to your employer before it can withhold any money from your paycheck. Employers are not permitted to withhold money to cover any damage to employer property, amounts missing from cash drawers, or alleged theft.
What money can I recover if I file a wage claim under the Pennsylvania Wage Payment & Collection Law?
You are entitled to all earnings, whether you are paid hourly, by task, piece, or commission. You can also recover any other benefits you are entitled to by agreement with your employer including vacation, holiday and separation pay.
If I am fired or quit my job, and my employer still owes me money, when should I get paid?
If you quit your job or are fired, the wages and compensation you earned should be paid no later than the next regular payday of your employer. You can request that your employer provide you with this payment by certified mail.
If your employer does not provide you with the money owed by the next regular payday, you might want to file a wage claim.
If my employer owes me money, what should I do?
First, determine the amount of money owed to you. If you are missing a paycheck, write down the dates of that pay period. Calculate the amount owed to you by reviewing you hourly wage and the hours you worked for that period.
If you are paid on commission, make a list of sales for which you never received your promised commission. If you have any written documentation that explains how your commission structure works, review it. Again, try to figure out exactly how much your employer owes you. The more details you have, the better!
Once you’ve gathered the information discussed above, ask your employer why you haven’t been paid. If your employer says that it paid you, ask to see a cancelled check or a printout from payroll. Request documentation!
If your employer refuses to pay you and cannot provide you with any evidence that you received the funds in question, you can file a wage claim.
Where do I file a wage claim?
If you are owed wages by your employer you have two options. First, you are entitled to file an action in court to recover the money owed. This can be done by filing a complaint with a local magisterial district judge if the amount of the claim is $12,000 or less. Claims which exceed $12,000 involve a different procedure and must be initiated in the Court of Common Pleas.
Your second option is to notify the Secretary of Labor at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry. You can do this by submitting a Wage Complaint Form.
For more information, visit the Department of Labor & Industry at www.dli.state.pa.us.
Is there a time limit for filing a wage claim?
Yes. The statute of limitations under the Wage Payment & Collection Law is 3 years.