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Lawyers Investigate Unpaid Wages at PA Warehouses

Thousands of Pennsylvania residents work for the numerous fulfillment and distribution centers that operate in our state. Companies like Amazon and Walmart depend on warehouse workers to process and ship their products. More and more, however, courts are finding that these companies have been violating wage laws by failing to pay workers for time associated with pre- and post-shift activities. Warehouse workers aren’t the only victims, either – construction workers, call center workers, and healthcare workers all frequently face wage theft at the hands of their employers.

At Pond Lehocky Giordano, we are passionate about advocating for workers. We also strongly believe in the value of educating our clients and the general public about the rights and protections that they are entitled to by law. With over 250 years of combined courtroom experience and a track record of over 100,000 successful cases, the experienced trial lawyers at Pond Lehocky Giordano LLP are more than qualified to represent your case. We are no stranger to taking on major corporations in a court of law.

If you have questions about wage law violations, or suspect that your employer may not be paying you fairly for your hours worked, contact our unpaid wage lawyers for a free, no-obligation consultation. Fill out our contact form or call 1-800-568-7500 today.

How are companies committing wage theft?

Companies frequently require hourly (and sometimes even salaried) employees in many industries to participate in activities that go unpaid, claiming that these are done on the employees’ own time. However, in July 2021, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a ruling concerning compensable working hours in a case against Amazon. Essentially, any time that an employee spends completing required tasks – including pre- or post-shift activities like security screenings – constitutes hours worked under Pennsylvania law.

Employees are entitled to be compensated for that time, even if it only comes out to 5-20 extra minutes a day. Over time, those minutes add up!

What constitutes pre- or post-shift activities?

Pre- or post-shift activities may include any activity that is done before or after your workday but still constitutes a necessary part of your job, even if they aren’t part of your job description. These can include:

  • Health screenings
  • Security screenings
  • Uniform preparation
  • Safety equipment preparation
  • Paperwork
  • Time spent setting up, cleaning, or closing down

If an employer requires their employees to complete these activities without compensation, that employer is committing wage theft.

What is wage theft, exactly?

Wage theft is an umbrella term that encompasses a range of offenses related to employers either failing to pay their workers owed wages or even taking money away from their employees. The following examples are all forms of wage theft:

Failure to pay Pennsylvania’s minimum wage

The minimum wage in Pennsylvania is $7.25 per hour. If the total amount of money you earn per hour is less than $7.25, your employer is committing wage theft.

Failure to provide overtime pay

When you work more than 40 hours in a week, you are generally entitled to overtime pay, which is 1.5 times your regular pay rate. Some employers may attempt to lower or manipulate their employees’ regular pay rate to reduce the amount of overtime pay they owe their workers.

Although salaried employees tend to not be entitled to overtime, this is not always the case. Your employment contract and your actual day-to-day responsibilities determine your overtime eligibility. Generally, executive, administrative, or professional employees are exempt.

Failure to pay someone for all hours worked

Sometimes, employers simply fail to count (intentionally or not) all the hours their employees work. This particular wage theft infraction can be more insidious, however, when you consider that being asked to work through an unpaid lunch break or being asked to work late without further compensation are both examples of wage theft.

Deducting pay illegally

Although there are a few instances where an employer can deduct your pay, those deductions generally need to have a worker’s written authorization and must benefit the worker for them to be legal.

How can an unpaid wage lawyer help your case?

If you believe you’ve been a victim of unpaid wages, engaging with a specialized unpaid wage lawyer can significantly influence the outcome of your case. Wage theft, a common issue affecting workers across various industries, can leave you feeling powerless and financially strained. However, in Pennsylvania, the law is on your side, and a lawyer with expertise in this area can be a formidable ally in fighting for your rights.

Expertise in wage law

An unpaid wage lawyer possesses deep understanding and expertise in wage laws and labor regulations specific to Pennsylvania. This knowledge is crucial because wage law can be complex, involving various federal and state statutes such as the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law (WPCL) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Lawyers specializing in this field can navigate through these laws efficiently, ensuring that every potential legal avenue is explored.

Calculating what you’re owed

Determining the exact amount of unpaid wages you’re owed can be intricate. It involves examining not just your hourly pay, but also overtime, bonuses, commissions, and other forms of compensation you were promised but did not receive. An experienced unpaid wage lawyer will meticulously review your pay records, employment contract, and work hours to accurately calculate the full amount you are due. This calculation also includes potential damages or additional penalties that may apply under state law, maximizing your possible recovery.

Handling complex negotiations

Often, the process of recovering unpaid wages involves negotiations with your employer or their legal representatives. A skilled wage theft lawyer will handle these discussions on your behalf, using their negotiation expertise to advocate for a fair settlement. If your employer is unwilling to settle, your lawyer is prepared to escalate the matter to court, presenting a well-prepared case supported by solid evidence and legal precedents.

Legal representation in court

Should your case go to trial, having a lawyer with a strong track record in litigating wage theft cases is invaluable. They will manage all aspects of the trial process, from filing the lawsuit to representing you in court hearings. Their ability to argue your case effectively, challenge any opposing evidence, and cross-examine witnesses can significantly impact the final judgment.

No upfront costs

Most unpaid wage lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if you win your case. This arrangement allows you to pursue your claim without worrying about upfront legal fees. It also aligns your lawyer’s interests with yours, incentivizing them to obtain the best possible outcome.

Protecting your rights

An unpaid wage lawyer does more than just fight for your unpaid wages. They also work to protect your rights as an employee, ensuring you are not subject to retaliation from your employer for pursuing your claim. Under Pennsylvania law, it’s illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for seeking wages they are owed.

Hiring an unpaid wage lawyer can drastically enhance your chances of recovering what you are rightfully owed and ensure your rights are vigorously defended throughout the legal process. If you’re dealing with unpaid wages, consider consulting with a law firm that specializes in workers’ rights, like Pond Lehocky Giordano. Our firm understands the nuances of Pennsylvania wage laws and is committed to advocating on your behalf.

Frequently asked questions about unpaid wages & wage theft in PA

What is the statute of limitations for a wage claim in Pennsylvania?

If your employer owes you unpaid wages, you can and should file a wage complaint with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor within three years of the date when your wages were due. However, you may have other legal claims related to the complaint that may have shorter deadlines. To clear up any questions regarding the strength of your claim or the complaint process, we recommend contacting our expert team of unpaid wage lawyers and legal team for a free consultation by calling 1-800-568-7500 or filling out our online contact form.

How should I pursue my unpaid wage claim in Pennsylvania?

Instead of filing a wage complaint directly with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor, you can file an individual lawsuit in court to recover your unpaid wages. In this case, the statute of limitations would be the same (three years from the date your wages were due). If certain conditions are met, the court can require your employer to pay your legal fees and may even award you an additional 25% of the owed wages.

Is wage theft considered a crime in Pennsylvania?

Under the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, your employer could face allegations of wage theft should they improperly withhold compensation for your work. Wage theft can take multiple forms, including:

  • Not issuing a final paycheck to an employee after their resignation or dismissal.
  • Not compensating employees for overtime hours worked.
  • Intentionally paying employees less than the required minimum wage.
  • Not allowing employees their legally mandated rest or meal breaks.
  • Engaging in any other practices that deprive employees of their rightfully earned wages.

These actions are not just unethical—they are illegal, and they violate both federal and state laws designed to protect workers. If you suspect that any of these situations apply to you, it may be in your best interest to consult with a lawyer who specializes in wage theft cases.

Contact Pond Lehocky Giordano today

Our expert legal team specializes in fighting for workers’ rights. If your employer is violating Pennsylvania wage law by not compensating you for necessary work activities, our employment lawyers can help you decide on the right course of action and evaluate the strength of your case. We offer free consultations with our attorneys so that you can better understand your legal options and find a clear path forward. For more information, call Pond Lehocky Giordano LLP at 1-800-568-7500 or fill out our contact form today.

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